"Today is my turn to ask for support and solidarity"

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"We are hostage to a series of pressures and political decisions that are addressed to us, because we are an obstacle to the construction of autocratic power in Turkey. Photo: supporters of Selahattin Demirtas in Ankara, Turkey, 19 June 2018. Umit Bektas / REUTERS

tribune. I send you this letter through my lawyers, from the maximum security prison in Edirne, where I was illegally detained for two years. On November 4, 2016, 12 deputies and I were arrested in violation of the law. All we are criticized for is what we have said and published in the press. We are actually the hostages of a series of political pressures and decisions that are addressed to us, because we are an obstacle to the construction of the autocratic power established in Turkey.

To date, around 5,000 people linked to my party, the People's Democratic Party (HDP), have been arrested for the same reasons. Currently we are fifty-eight mayors and nine deputies to be incarcerated in the same prison. No fewer than one hundred and twenty-two investigations have been opened against me in the last two years. Forty-seven of these led to the opening of a process.

Read also European justice "orders" Turkey to release the Kurdish opponent Demirtas

Some studies remain pending, but nineteen are underway. I owe my incarceration only to one of them, and the observations I have made, therefore, make me run into a sentence of one hundred and fifty years in prison. I was recently sentenced to four years and eight months in prison in a trial motivated by a peace speech that I made five years earlier in the United States. framework of the peace process with the Kurds.

This speech was then greeted by the entire international press as a " great message of peace "Alas, five years later," terrorist propaganda "was redeveloped and the sentence is currently filed in cassation.

Read also Turkey: request for release of the Kurdish opponent Demirtas rejected

On 20 November, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recognized that my imprisonment was political and ordered my immediate release, to which Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president of the Party for Justice and Development (AKP)) and the President of the Republic, replied that he would not make any such decision. On the same day, another court initiated the procedure to confirm my sentence of four years and eight months in prison.

My main process is moving very hard because of political pressure. Furthermore, various maneuvers of all kinds are urgently made to prevent my release. At the time, when I was a human rights lawyer myself, I received many letters asking for support like the one I call today. In my work for Amnesty International and the Turkish Human Rights Association, I did everything I could to help those who needed me.

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