Skip to main content

HDP's Demirtas allowed to visit hospital nearly a week after fainting in Turkish jail

Pro-Kurdish politician taken for a check-up just hours after his sister complained on social media about delay
Demirtas, 46, is currently serving a sentence of four years and eight months

Selahattin Demirtas, the imprisoned former co-leader of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), has been taken to hospital for a check-up on Monday, nearly a week after he fainted in his prison cell, according to Edirne's Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Earlier on Monday, Aygul Demirtas said her brother lost consciousness in prison in Edirne last Tuesday and had still not been fully evaluated by medical authorities.

Just hours after Aygul tweeted the information, the prosecutor's office said in a statement: “Upon receiving a complaint by Selahattin Demirtas who said he got sick last Tuesday, [the prison management] called an ambulance and a doctor made necessary checks.

"Even though there was no health issue detected, he was today transported to Trakya University Medical School Hospital for further checks.

"During this process, Demirtas was able to meet his family and visitor as a routine procedure. His past requests for doctor visits in different times in the past have also been fullfilled.”

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


'At risk of death'

In a statement on Twitter, Aygul Demirtas said her brother had chest pains, was unable to breathe and lost consciousness last week.

She said he was initially provided with first aid by his cellmate - former HDP lawmaker Abdullah Zeydan.

Turkish court rules ex-HDP leader Demirtas should be released from pre-trial detention
Read More »

Aygul, who is also her brother's lawyer, said: "Then an ambulance was called and only an ECG [electrocardiogram] was performed. 

"Our client requested a referral to the clinic for a comprehensive intervention and treatment instead of an emergency room.

"The prison doctor also requested that Demirtas be transferred to three separate departments: cardiology, neurology and gastroenterology," Aygul wrote.

She said she and her brother's other lawyers had requested an immediate transfer to a hospital during a meeting with the prison administration.

"However, Demirtas was not referred to the hospital after seven days. Failure to refer him to a hospital despite such a vital health problem clearly means he is at risk of death."

Earlier, the HDP, the second-largest opposition party in Turkey's parliament, called on the justice ministry to issue a statement on Demirtas' health, saying it was unacceptable that he had not been taken to hospital.

'Stifling pluralism'

One of Turkey's best known politicians, Demirtas, 46, has been in jail for more than three years and faces several cases against him, mainly on terrorism charges.

He could be sentenced to 142 years in jail if found guilty in the main case.

Demirtas is currently serving a sentence of four years and eight months after being convicted of "making propaganda for a terrorist organisation" in September 2018.

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey to release Demirtas from prison.

The ECHR said his detention had the "ulterior purpose of stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate".

In September, prosecutors in Ankara launched a new investigation into Demirtas and requested his detention after a court lifted his arrest warrant in the main case.

Demirtas denies the charges against him.

Ankara accuses the HDP of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long armed struggle against the Turkish state. The HDP denies links to the group.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.