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Turkish court releases detained Kurdish lawmakers

A Turkish court on Saturday ordered the release of three Kurdish lawmakers charged with having links to militants after ordering the release of two others on Friday. A judge in Diyarbakir ruled [Reuters report] that the detainment of Selma Irmakand and Faysal Sariyildiz, Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party members of parliament, and independent member Kemal Aktas violated their rights as elected officials and released them. On Friday a judge in Diyarbakir ordered the release of Gulser Yildirim and Ibrahim Ayhan who were charged with supporting the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) [party website] rebels and had been detained since 2010. This decision came after a Turkish court in Diyarbakir rejected [JURIST report] Yildirim and Ayhan's release in December 2013. In July Turkey's top court ruled [Turkish Weekly report] that long-term detentions of members of parliament of an opposing party pending trial was in contradiction to the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey [text, PDF].

Turkey has recently received criticism [JURIST report] regarding human rights, particularly following the violent protests that began in Istanbul this summer. In June the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged [JURIST report] the Turkish government to ensure the rights of its citizens to assemble freely and in a peaceful manner. The PKK is considered [JURIST report] a terrorist group by the Turkish government, the EU and the US. In 2012 a Turkish court ordered [JURIST report] the release of 16 individuals detained on accusations of having links to Kurdish militants. In 2012, when the individuals were released, around 200 others remained in detention for accusations of coup-plotting and terrorism. The BDP was created [JURIST report] on the basis of the Democratic Society Party, which was banned [JURIST report] by Turkey's Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish] in December 2009 because the party was cooperating with the PKK.

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