Former co-chair of the pro-peace Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison for "making propaganda for a terrorist organization" on Friday, the first of many charges the imprisoned politician faces. Demirtas has already been held in a maximum-security prison in Edirne for nearly two years awaiting sentencing.
The "terror propaganda" charges concerned a speech Demirtas made at a Newroz celebration in 2013— when Turkey was taking part in peace negotiations with the PKK.
Former HDP MP Sureyya Onder was sentenced to three years and six months at the same hearing.
"If we are equal citizens of this country, our political views should not interest you," Demirtas said. "It is our right to expect you to respect our right to defense."
In a statement posted to Twitter, the HDP said that the two men were sentenced for defending peace. "This verdict is the AKP government’s decision to continue its policy of war," the statement read. "We share Demirtas & Onder's commitment to peace."