HDP Co-chairs’ invitation to Observe the ‘Kobani Case’

Call by HDP Co-Chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar, 26.03.2021

We are writing to ask if you would consider acting as an observer in a crucial case affecting the future of our party and of democracy in Turkey – the so-called ‘Kobanî Case’, which comes to trial on 26 April 2021 in Ankara.

The HDP is currently facing two large-scale judicial operations organized by the AKP government. One is the closure case against the HDP, which was recently filed by the prosecutor of the Court of Cassation. The case will be heard by the Constitutional Court, whose members are mainly judges appointed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the AKP-MHP majority group in parliament. President Erdoğan appointed this prosecutor in June 2020.

The other, known as the ‘Kobanî Case,’ was filed against 108 people, including HDP former co-chairs Mr Selahattin Demirtaş and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, current co-chair Ms Pervin Buldan, several current and former HDP deputies and mayors, all members of HDP’s Central Executive Board in 2014, and many others. This case was launched as a counter move of the Turkish government just two weeks after the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights had made its final judgment and demanded the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş. The indictment of this case demands more than 15,000 years prison sentence for Selahattin Demirtaş alone. The case is both crucial in itself, and is being used by the government as a vehicle to ban the HDP and eliminate HDP leadership and executives from the political field.

The indictment accuses the HDP for a Twitter message, posted on 6 October 2014, which called for protests in solidarity with the people of Kobanî, a Kurdish town in Northern Syria, who were fighting against the attacks of ISIS and Turkey’s embargo on the town at the time. At least 37 people were killed during the protests, the overwhelming majority of whom were HDP supporters killed by Turkish police gunfire. HDP has so far tabled many proposals to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate the protests, reveal the truth, and find out the instigators of violence and murderers. But all of these proposals were rejected by the ruling AKP-MHP alliance at the parliament. So far no single Turkish police officer has been effectively prosecuted, no investigation was carried out into those responsible for the deaths of HDP supporters. Adding insult to injury, the government is now, that is, more than six years after the
protests, using a totally politicized judiciary to punish the HDP for the murder of its own supporters.

While President Erdoğan has long been accusing HDP leadership of inciting violence by calling for protests, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights underlined, in its ruling on 22 December 2020, that HDP’s Kobanî protest calls “remained within the limits of political speech, in so far as they cannot be construed as a call for violence.”

On behalf of the HDP, we are calling on the international community – lawyers, elected deputies, political parties and all individual and institutions concerned with democratic life in Turkey – to observe the first hearing of the Kobanî case on 26th April 2021 in Ankara. Please see the attached technical information document on the procedure for observing the hearing in Ankara. Our lawyers and foreign affairs team will organize a briefing meeting after the case and arrange a dinner meeting on the hearing day. Your presence at the hearing will surely make a difference and be most appreciated at these most challenging times for our party and people.