Selahattin Demirtaş was born in Diyarbakır, Turkey in 1973 where he completed his primary and secondary schooling. Starting his higher education at the department of Maritime Commerce and Management faculty of 9 Eylül University of İzmir, Demirtaş felt forced to leave his higher education due to political problems. Re- sitting the university entrance exam the following year, Demirtaş got into the Faculty of Law at Ankara University. Upon graduating he worked as a freelance lawyer for a few years and was then elected as a member for the Human Rights Association (IHD), in Diyarbakır. The following year, Demirtaş replaced Osman Baydemir the chairman of IHD, as Baydemir was chosen Mayor of Diyarbakir.
During his term as chairman, the association focused heavily on the increasing unsolved political murders in Turkey. Demirtaş is among the founding members of the Turkish Human Rights Association (TIHV) and the Diyarbakır post of Amnesty International.
In 2007, Demirtaş started his political career as a member of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), at which time he stood as one of the ‘Thousand Hope Candidates’ for the DTP and several other democratic organizations in Turkey. He was elected to the 23rd Parliament and became the Parliamentary Chief Officer for the party at the age of 34.
Upon the Supreme Court closing down DTP in 2009 the DTP MPs moved to the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The BDP held its first congress in 2010 and elected Selahattin Demirtaş and Gültan Kışanak as its new co-chairs. Demirtaş contested the 2011 elections as part of the joint ‘Labor, Democracy and Freedom’ list endorsed by the BDP and 18 different democratic political organizations, this time from Hakkari. He was reelected to the 24th parliament.
Demirtaş was the co-chair of BDP during the period when the peace process and negotiations kick-started in Turkey. In 2014 Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ were elected to be the new co-chairs of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) – a new initiative originating from a three-year-old coalition of the BDP and various different political parties and organization under the auspices of the Peoples' Democratic Congress (HDK).
Demirtaş is presidential candidate for HDP in the first ever Turkish presidency election to be chosen by the people.