Writer Selahattin Demirtaş sentenced to 42 years by Turkish court on jumped up ‘terrorist propaganda’ charges cover image

Writer Selahattin Demirtaş sentenced to 42 years by Turkish court on jumped up ‘terrorist propaganda’ charges

Comma Press utterly condemns the barbaric sentencing of Kurdish writer Selahattin Demirtaş to 42 years imprisonment, in Turkey yesterday, despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling for his immediate release. Demirtaş, who is a contributor to Comma’s anthology Kurdistan + 100, has already been unjustly detained for seven-and-a-half years, kept from his family and loved ones, and denied fair legal representation. To quote PEN International, 'That he continues to languish behind bars despite the ECHR ruling for his release makes a mockery of what is left of Turkey’s justice system.'

Comma joins the hundreds of cultural institutions, writers and people around the world in demanding Selahattin's immediate release in compliance with the ECHR ruling.


In October 2014, with the Islamic State on the brink of taking over the city of Kobani, widespread democratic protests erupted across the world, including in many cities in Turkey, some of which criticised the Turkish Army's complicity in the Islamic State's crimes. During these protests, 46 civilians (34 of whom were members and supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)), were killed by pro-ISIS groups, with alleged provocation from Turkey’s security forces (the latter assisted pro-IS, Islamist groups such as the HÜDA PAR party to demonstrate in the same locations as HDP demos).
  Despite the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which made it clear that the HDP could not be considered responsible for the violence, the Turkish government persisted in launching a court case against HDP’s executive members, including co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş. The defendants refuted all allegations, but the court proceeded with the trials under clear political influence. Judicial malpractice was evident from the beginning, when the initial judge was found to be a member of a criminal organisation, and continued to be blatant throughout. The court has unjustly sentenced many HDP politicians on baseless allegations. Yesterday (16 May), the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court found Selahattin Demirtaş guilty of ‘aiding in undermining the unity and integrity of the state’, ‘incitement to commit a crime’ and ‘making terrorist propaganda’.

Born on 10 April 1973, Selahattin Demirtaş wrote a collection of short stories while in prison entitled Seher (Dawn, 2017), which instantly became a best-seller and was translated into scores of languages. His novel Devran was published in 2019. In October 2023, Comma published Kurdistan + 100, which featured his story 'My Handsome One' (translated by Amy Spangler), about a female activist who becomes the first president of an independent Kurdish state. The story was written by hand and passed to his lawyer during jail visits.