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Turkish opposition MP strikes defiant tone despite jail sentence

FORMER Turkish opposition MP Sirri Sureyya Onder struck a defiant note as he arrived at Kandira prison today to start a 42-month sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges.

The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) politician told a crowd gathered outside the jail: “We stand by whatever we said. Greetings to all our friends. Peace and democracy will win.”

His jail sentence for spreading terrorist propaganda, stemming from a speech he gave during celebrations of Newroz (the Kurdish new year), was upheld by the Istanbul Regional Court of Justice earlier this week following an appeal.

Mr Onder was sentenced in September alongside former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, who received four years and eight months on the same charges.

The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that Mr Demirtas, who has been held since November 2016, should be released from pre-trial detention. The Turkish government has vowed to appeal against the decision.

The HDP denounced the sentences imposed on Mr Demirtas and Mr Onder, saying they demonstrate “that the judiciary is working in a chain-of-command relationship with the government.”

Mr Onder said that, despite the oppressive rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, good times would return to Turkey.

“We are going through hard days, which are no surprise to anyone who is part of the work and struggle for peace and democracy in Turkey,” he said. “This pit of war and vulgarity is not as deep as it may seem. 

“Although everything may seem gloomy now, good days are in fact coming to our country. Our tradition is full of countless examples of beating the odds. 

“We stand behind every word we have spoken, every effort we have made with honour. If we have to pay a price for that, then so be it.”

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