As Kurdish political leader and former presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtaş faces trial in Turkey today, Left MEPs have urged the EU to take concrete measures to defend the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for his release.

“Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested more than two years ago. He has been the subject of 29 investigations and faces up to 150 years in prison,” MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat (Independent, France) told High Representative Federica Mogherini in the European Parliament. “The charges are based on speeches made to support the peace process in Turkey, which the EU has supported.”

While the recent ECHR ruling has brought hope to peace campaigners, authorities have arrested fifty people this week merely for supporting a hunger strike by Kurdish Member of Parliament, Leyla Güven.

On Turkish President Erdoğan’s recent comments that the ruling was non-binding, Vergiat said he was “flouting the law of the Council of Europe”.

At the opening of the plenary session on Monday, Vergiat and the GUE/NGL group demanded a statement by Mogherini and a discussion on the issue to show our solidarity with Demirtaş. “We asked for this debate because he is a symbol of what is happening in Turkey, and to ask the High Representative how, concretely, she can act to uphold the ECHR decision.” The Court said his jailing had the “ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate”.

Note: Photo action by MEPs today 11.45 in Strasbourg in support of Selahattin Demirtaş. Contact GUE/NGL Press for more detail. Photos will be posted here

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