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SP and allies in Council of Europe nominate imprisoned Kurdish leader for human rights prize

5 July 2017

SP and allies in Council of Europe nominate imprisoned Kurdish leader for human rights prize

The United Left Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which is headed by SP Senator Tiny Kox, has nominated Selahattin Demirtaş for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize for 2017. The nomination is supported in addition by the United Left Group (GUE-NGL) in the European Parliament, to which the SP is also affiliated, as well as the Netherlands-based Trans National Institute, and Kurds & Friends, a Dutch NGO which concerns itself with human rights in Turkey. The prize is presented annually to a defender of human rights in Europe or beyond. At the present time Demirtaş, leader of the Kurdish left party the HDP and chair of its group in the Turkish Parliament, is being held in prison under harsh conditions, accused of ‘activities which undermine the state.’

Selahattin Demirtaş was a human rights lawyer and activist and worked for the rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey even before he became active in politics. Despite the precarious state of his health, in prison Demirtaş took part in hunger strikes in solidarity with the tens of thousands of political opponents of Turkey’s President Erdogan, from both left and right, rounded up after the failed coup of 15th July 2016.

In 2015 the prize went to Russian human rights veteran Ludmilla Alexeeva, while last year’s was awarded to Yezidi activist Nadia Murad. The winner of this year’s Václav Havel Human Rights Prize will be announced in Strasbourg in October.

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