Esquerra addresses letters to political prisoners in Turkey: “When you are a hostage of a non-democratic state, you know what lack of freedom means.”

Oriol Junqueras, Marta Rovira, Marta Vilalta, Raül Romeva and other Esquerra Republicana leaders address elected representatives of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, jailed for dissenting from the Erdoğan regime

Esquerra Republicana has taken part in an anti-repression and solidarity campaign promoted by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), sending letters to their political prisoners in Turkey. The HDP, a left-wing, environmentalist and feminist political organization that defends the rights of minorities in Turkey, is the third largest party in Turkey’s 56-member national assembly and currently has 4,000 members imprisoned for dissenting from the Erdoğan regime.

These particular letters were addressed to 20 elected women and 20 elected men of the HDP: “If anyone writes a letter to our friends in Turkish prisons, they will make a significant contribution in the name of solidarity,” says the HDP. Esquerra Republicana, which is also experiencing repression first-hand and wants to contribute to the fight against authoritarianism and in favour of all just global causes, recently sent some fifteen letters signed by mayors, members of parliament and leading members of the national executive, including party leader Oriol Junqueras, Secretary General Marta Rovira, Deputy Secretary General Marta Vilalta, and Deputy Secretary General for Prospection and Agenda 2030 Raül Romeva.

In his letter to HDP spokesman Günay Kubilay, Mr Junqueras explains that “only when you become a political prisoner and a hostage in a non-democratic state do you realise first hand what lack of freedom and the need for support mean,” which was precisely the support he received through thousands of letters when he was imprisoned. “I hope you consider this letter a sign of complicity, help and respect,” wrote Mr Junqueras. “During my time in prison, I strengthened my convictions, despite the repression,” he said. And he ends with one of his best-known phrases: “Remember that we are the fruit of many defeats, but we are also the seed of all victories.”

Organizing a society based on democratic, environmentalist and feminist values should never be considered a crime
Marta Rovira Secretary General of Esquerra Republicana

Meanwhile, Ms Rovira addressed her letter to former HDP co-chair and MP Figen Yüksekdağ: “I consider you and the other imprisoned HDP politicians victims of the repression of the Erdoğan regime and deserve freedom; Organizing a society based on democratic, environmentalist and feminist values should never be considered a crime,” said Ms Rovira. “In my case, I can say that exile is a hard ordeal, but it is also a purposeful and powerful tool to show the world that Spain is not a democratic country,” she wrote. “Feeling united with the goals and ideals of colleagues, siblings, relatives, even beyond the walls of the prison, will give you the strength to overcome your difficult situation,” she wrote and said her goodbyes referring to Friedrich Nietzsche: “I hope you consider this letter an ‘unexpected visit’.”

Esquerra demands explanation from the Spanish government on its relations with Turkey

Meanwhile in the Spanish Congress, Esquerra Republicana expressed its concern regarding the harsh conditions, ill-treatment and sexual abuse that take place in Turkish prisons, where there are high rates of suicide and disease. Given that “guaranteeing compliance with human rights is essential in relations with any state,” and “given the close ties between Turkey and Spain, especially in recent years,” Esquerra has asked a number of questions addressing the Spanish executive.

“Is the Spanish government aware of the situation of penitentiaries in Turkey?” and “Is there a clause in the trade agreements with Turkey that binds transactions to human rights in the country?” were among the questions raised. Esquerra also asked whether the Spanish government will put forth the particular situation of Aysel Tuğluk. A former HDP MP, she has been accused of terrorism and imprisoned since December 2016, and is suffering from very serious health problems.