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Türkiye Opposition Leader Sentenced to 42 Years in Controversial Trial, Sparking Human Rights Concerns

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In a controversial ruling that has sent shockwaves through the political landscape of Türkiye, Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been sentenced to 42 years in prison. The sentence was handed down by the Ankara 22nd Assize Court after Demirtaş was found guilty of inciting the violent protests that erupted in 2014, known as the Kobani riots.

The riots, which resulted in the deaths of 37 people, were triggered by an Islamic State attack on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. The Turkish court’s decision has been met with international concern and criticism, as Demirtaş has been a prominent figure in Türkiye’s opposition politics and a two-time election rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,

Demirtaş has been in custody since 2016, facing multiple trials on terror-related charges. His imprisonment has been a subject of contention between Türkiye and Western governments, with the European Court of Human Rights repeatedly calling for his release.

The case against Demirtaş and other members of the now-defunct HDP stems from one of the most tumultuous periods of the Syrian Civil War. The HDP has been accused by the Turkish government of being the political front for outlawed Kurdish militants, a charge the party has consistently denied.

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