Osman Baydemir

Osman Baydemir (born 1971 in Diyarbakır) is a Turkish politician, lawyer and human rights activist of Kurdish descent. He was the mayor of his home town of Diyarbakır from 2004 to 2014. He was a member of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) until 2014 and HDP since 2014.

Osman Baydemir
Mayor of Diyarbakır
In office
Preceded byFeridun Çelik
Succeeded byGültan Kışanak
Personal details
Born (1971-01-01) 1 January 1971
Diyarbakır, Turkey

Life and career

Osman Baydemir graduated from the Law Faculty at Dicle University in Diyarbakır. In 1995 he became the chair of the Diyarbakır branch of the independent Human Rights Association. Between 1995 and 2002 he also was a board member and became vice-president of the association.[1] In February 1999 he became one of the first lawyers who volunteered to defend Abdullah Öcalan.[2] In 2001 he became a founding member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT or TİHV Türkiye İnsan Hakları Vakfı).[3] At the general elections in 2002, he was the candidate of the Democratic People's Party (DEHAP), but the party failed to reach the 10% election threshold. In 2003, Baydemir spent 6 months in the United States, to improve his English. In 2004, he was elected mayor of Diyarbakır.[1]

In May 2005 he married Reyhan Yalçındağ, the deputy chair of the Human Rights Association in Turkey. On 23 April 2006 their son Mirzanyar was born.[4]

Charges and threats

As a human rights activist and as a politician, Osman Baydemir has been subjected to persecution on various levels. According to a report of Amnesty International of 12 February 2004 there were 200 court cases against him for his human rights activities.[5] The daily Radikal reported on 11 July 2006 that during the last two years a total of 129 investigations against him had been conducted.[6]

Osman Baydemir has received numerous threats. In June 2001 Amnesty International issued an urgent action on his behalf.[7] After the assassination of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in January 2007 Osman Baydemir was among several people who received death threats.[8]

Recent court cases against Osman Baydemir include:

  • In May 2006 Osman Baydemir was charged with an illegal act by providing an ambulance of the municipality for the transport of a corpse.[9] In September 2006 Osman Baydemir was acquitted.[10]
  • Osman Baydemir and 55 other mayors of the DTP Party were indicted because in December 2005 they signed a petition to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen urging him not to close the Kurdish television station Roj TV. They were charged with supporting the PKK. The trial started in September 2006. In April 2007 the prosecutor asked for sentences of 15 years' imprisonment for 52 mayors.[11]
  • He was prosecuted for violating a Turkish law prohibiting the use of letters not in the Turkish alphabet when he sent out a New Year's greeting in Kurdish which included the letter "W".[12] On 19 April 2007, Diyarbakır Peace Court No. 2 dropped the charges since the Ministry of Justice had not permitted that such a case be heard.[13]
  • In October 2017 Baydemir got sentenced to 1 year 5 months and 15 days of imprisonment for insulting an "on-duty government employee" after he called three police officers "fascists and low-lives".[14]
  • On 10 December 2018 Ahval news agency reported he was sentenced to 18 month of prison for violating the law of demonstations and meetings.[15]


  1. Osman Baydemir, Kim Kimdir?
  2. Akyol, Cahit; Kurt, Nurettin (24 February 1999). "Yuhalandılar". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  3. "Board of Founders". Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 4 December 2006. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  4. "Osman Baydemir got married (Turkish)". newspaper Zaman. 6 August 2005. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  5. "Turkey: Restrictive laws, arbitrary application - the pressure on human rights defenders". Amnesty International. 12 February 2004. Retrieved 20 August 2008. See footnote 18.
  6. "Baydemir'e iki yılda 129 soruşturma". DHA (in Turkish). Radikal. 7 November 2006. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  7. "Turkey: Death threats/Fear for safety Eren Keskin and Osman Baydemir". Amnesty International. 6 June 2001. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  8. "Singer Ferhat Tunç informed about death threat with two months delay". Freemuse. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  9. Cebe, Özgur (30 May 2002). "Ambulans davası açıldı". DHA. Milliyet. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  10. "Baydemir beraat etti". DHA (in Turkish). Radikal. 28 September 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  11. "Prosecutor seeks 15 years for Kurdish mayors over Denmark letter". AFP. Kurdish Institute of Paris. 3 April 2007. Archived from the original on 21 August 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  12. "Daily human rights report". Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 20 August 2008. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  13. "Daily human rights report". Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. 20 April 2007. Archived from the original on 14 August 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2008.
  14. Kurdistan24. "Turkey court sentences pro-Kurdish HDP's Baydemir to 17 months in prison". Kurdistan24. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  15. "Former pro-Kurdish deputies face prison". Ahval. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
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