Belarusian PEN Centre joins PEN International and calls for immediate and unconditional release of Selahattin Demirtaş


The Turkish authorities must urgently abide by the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling of December 2020 and immediately and unconditionally release Selahattin Demirtaş, PEN International said today, as his trial is set to resume in Istanbul on 14 April. The writer and opposition politician has been held in pre-trial detention for over four years.

Former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested on 4 November 2016 on dubious terrorism charges. He faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted. The Turkish authorities have so far failed to implement a December 2020 ruling by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, which found his detention to be politically motivated and ordered his immediate release. The Grand Chamber was ruling on an appeal of a landmark judgement issued by one of the Court’s regular chambers in November 2018, which notably called for Demirtaş’s immediate release. In March 2021, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers urged Turkey to implement the Court’s rulings, which are legally binding, and to free Demirtaş.

‘Each day that Selahattin Demirtaş spends behind bars is a tragedy and a reminder of Turkey’s blatant disregard for its obligations under international human rights law. The European Court of Human Rights twice ruled for Demirtaş’s immediate release yet the Turkish authorities are shamefully ignoring the rulings. As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey must abide by judgements of the European Court of Human Rights and free Demirtaş at once’

– said Jennifer Clement, PEN International President.

For more information about the case, please click here.