Turkish supreme court upholds prison sentence against opposition politician Canan Kaftancıoğlu

Statement by HDP Foreign Affairs Co-spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy, 13.05.2022

As parliamentary and presidential elections in Turkey get closer, the AKP-MHP alliance is increasing its pressure on the opposition in an attempt to ensure its own survival. While arrests, court cases, and physical attacks against the HDP continue, other government opponents are also threatened by government-controlled state bodies, especially by the judiciary.

On 12 May 2022, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals approved a prison sentence of four years and 11 months for Ms Canan Kaftancıoğlu, İstanbul Provincial Chair of the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP). The court approved three different sentences against her: “insulting a public official”, “explicitly degrading the Turkish Republic”, and “insulting the president”, while ruling that two other sentences be reversed. The court’s ruling may also result in a political ban on Kaftancıoğlu.

Kaftancıoğlu was head of the CHP in İstanbul when they ousted the AKP in the mayoral elections of 2019. Charges were made against her following the March election, based on social media postings that she shared eight years ago, and a local court had sentenced her to a total of nine years imprisonment for five separate charges, including “making terrorist propaganda”.

Approval of the prison sentences against Kaftancıoğlu should be seen as another crackdown on government opposition ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections. The government, which persistently fails to implement the European Court of Human Rights judgements for the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş and Osman Kavala, is taking an increasingly reckless stance against the opposition, by means of its control over the judiciary. In the most recent Gezi trial, the fact that Kavala – for from being released – was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, is a clear indication of this authoritarian policy. In addition to these high-profile cases, there are thousands of people in prison simply for having expressed ideas critical of the government.

The ruling AKP-MHP alliance know that their power is on shaky ground, and they can be expected to continue to implement all kinds of unlawfulness in order to try and stay in charge. We believe that government pressure on their opponents will increase as we get closer to the elections. And, so long as the international community remains silent, this repression will become even more brutal. We thus call on all democratic international communities and institutions to raise their voices and to take action against the repression of its opponents by the Turkish government.