‘Medieval conditions in Turkish prison’ says released HDP deputy

Idris Baluken, HDP Diyarbakir deputy and vice-chair

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakir deputy and vice-chair, Idris Baluken, was released on Monday morning, pending trial, after spending almost three months in prison.

Baluken appeared in court via teleconference on charges of membership to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Issuing his ruling for Baluken’s release on judicial control, the judge gave as a precedent a previous decision of the Constitutional Court on imprisoned deputies and said there was no evidence to obscure and Baluken was an elected MP.

Baluken was detained alongside 8 other MPs, including the HDP co-leaders, on 4 November 2016.

The former doctor, also an important figure in the Turkish-Kurdish solution process between 2013-2015, made a statement upon his release in which he said that the detention of HDP co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yuksekdag and the other MPs seriously casts doubts over the earnestness of the constitutional referendum.

“The fact that more politicians are in jail than are present at the [HDP] head office reveals at what point we are in terms of democracy in Turkey. Journalists, artists, and even people who are ill are being detained,” Baluken said, referring to 74 year Mardin co-mayor Ahmet Turk.

“As long as this shameful process continues, we will have difficulties rejoicing at the release of our friends. Before anything else, the co-leaders of our party, our MPs, and politicians must all be released,” the HDP deputy said.

“The other question is how an elected member of parliament, who represents the will of 80 million people, can be held in isolation under medieval conditions for 2 months and 21 days. Isolation is a violation of human rights, it’s a form of torture. Though it’s a shame that an MP is subjected to isolation, no one should have to go through that”.

“We said peace when we were taken into custody, we said democracy, we said freedom. When here in jail, in isolation, we continued to insist on peace, democracy and freedom. Now that we are released today, we still insist on peace, democracy and freedom. We all deserve that in this country,” Baluken said.