Pro-Kurdish Party Head Faces Prison Term in Turkey

Turkish prosecutors accuse HDP head Selahattin Demirtas and a party legislator of engaging in 'propaganda for a terror organization' based on speeches allegedly praising PKK.

The leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party Selahattin Demirtas makes a speech during a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, June 5, 2016.
Osman Orsal, Reuters

Prosecutors in Istanbul demanded five-year prison terms for the leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish party and a senior party member who are accused of engaging in "propaganda for a terror organization" in an indictment released on Friday.

The Istanbul chief prosecutor's office accused Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the People's Democratic Party, HDP, and party legislator Sirri Sureyya Onder, based on speeches they delivered in 2013 that allegedly praised the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, and its jailed leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

Their prosecution was made possible after legal immunities that protected legislators from prosecution were lifted in May.

The move came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly called for the trial of HDP legislators on terrorism-related charges, accusing them of links to the PKK.