Coronavirus: Turkey urged to release ill dissidents, HRW

As part of amnesty for 90,000 discussed in parliament

03 April, 16:16

    Among dissident politicians actually in jail in Turkey is former Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who suffers from heart problems Among dissident politicians actually in jail in Turkey is former Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who suffers from heart problems

    ISTANBUL - A draft law proposed by the government majority in Turkey for a large amnesty to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in jails is a ''step in the right direction'' but it excludes thousands of people sentenced to jail for terrorism, including those whose lives are at risk from the virus, the head of Human Right Watch for Europe and Asia Hugh Williamson said.

    The move would release 90,000 detainees, almost a third of the total prison population. Williamson urged Turkey not to exclude dissident politicians and journalists, who are often charged under anti-terrorism laws.

    Among them, the NGO noted, is former Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, who suffers from heart problems and who had suffered other health months in recent months. The text of the amnesty, presented by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP and the allied MHP nationalists, arrived in the constitutional committee of the parliament on Friday, where it will be debated prior to arriving in the chamber next week for the vote. At the moment excluded from the draft law will be those sentenced for terrorism, drug, violence against women and children, sexual abuse, and premeditated murder.

    Opposition groups support the initiative but have asked for political dissidents, intellectuals and journalists that have been detained to be included, including writer Ahmet Altan and the philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala.

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