(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Executive Committee Member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, today issued the following statement in response to news reports of Kurdish prisoner Selahattin Demirtas’ hospitalization:
“I am troubled by news reports that Selahattin Demirtas has fallen ill while being unjustly imprisoned in Turkey. It is outrageous and unacceptable that it took President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government nearly a week to allow Demirtas access to a hospital after he experienced chest pains, had difficulty breathing, and lost consciousness.
"I call on Turkey to swiftly explain the intolerable delay in his treatment and provide a detailed account of his health status. I renew my call for President Erdogan’s government to immediately release Selahattin Demirtas. He should not be facing these serious health challenges in prison simply because President Erdogan fears political freedom and democracy.”
Selahattin Demirtas is the Kurdish former co-leader of Turkey’s third-largest political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). He has been imprisoned by Turkey since November 4, 2016, when he was detained during a crackdown on opposition parties and democratic forces by President Erdogan.
Through the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission’s Defending Freedoms Project, Congressman Raskin advocates for the release, reduced sentencing, and improved treatment of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.