Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has vowed to release Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş and Businessman Osman Kavala from prison as soon as his party comes to power in the upcoming 2023 elections.
According to T24 news portal, during a public meeting in in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on Thursday, Kılıçdaroğlu said his party would ensure the release of Demirtaş and Kavala from prison as well as all others who have been jailed on politically motivated charges.
Demirtaş was co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) when he was arrested in November 2016. He has been behind bars since then despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling in November 2018 that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was political and ordering his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey subsequently upheld a prison sentence handed down to Demirtaş for disseminating terrorist propaganda.
Kavala, who has yet to be convicted by a court, has been in prison since 2017. Turkey and several Western countries barely avoided a diplomatic crisis after 10 ambassadors released a statement in October calling for Kavala’s release on the fourth anniversary of his arrest.