‘The Kobani trial’ is a pretext to close the HDP and carry out systematic criminalisation

Statement by HDP Foreign Affairs Co-Spokespersons Feleknas Uca and Hişyar Özsoy, 21.04.2023

The Kobani Case was filed in 2020 against 108 people, including the HDP’s former co-chairs, Mr Selahattin Demirtaş and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, current co-chair Ms Pervin Buldan, several current and former HDP deputies and mayors, and all the members of the HDP’s Central Executive Board of 2014. This case was launched as a counter move by the Turkish government just two weeks after the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights made its final judgment demanding immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş. The indictment in the Kobani Case is based on a twitter message posted by the HDP on 6 October 2014. This called for democratic protests in solidarity with the people of Kobanî, a Kurdish town in Northern Syria that was fighting against the attacks of ISIS, and also against Turkey’s embargo on the town. The prosecutor is calling for all the defendants to be given aggravated life sentences (without parole) 38 times for the crimes of “destroying the unity of the state and the integrity of the country” and “premeditated murder” for the people who lost their lives in the Kobani protests. Seventeen politicians are currently being held in pre-trial detention for this case.

The Kobani case is closely linked with the closure case filed against the HDP, for which it serves as a pretext. In the closure case, the prosecution is mainly based on the alleged role and responsibility of the HDP in the murders that occurred during the Kobani protests in 2014. We should stress that the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has already examined these allegations in the case of Selahattin Demirtaş and concluded that neither Demirtaş nor the HDP had any responsibility for the murders.

In the first hearing of the case, the court board was changed before the hearing started. On the first day of the hearing, the court was filled with law enforcement officers, even in the sections reserved for lawyers. While the trial was pending, the president of the court was dismissed and put under house arrest on the grounds that he was a member of a criminal organization. The court has so far taken multiple decisions that directly violate, or even deny, the right to defense, and therefore the right to a fair trial. These unlawful decisions include the continuation of the hearings in two-week periods without a break, secret witness statements full of contradictions, and the limitation of the duration of the defense to one day for the defendants and their lawyers. The court decided to send the file to the prosecutor for his obiter dictum without even an interrogation of the defendants, including of the HDP’s former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.

The 24th hearing of the trial took place at the Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court on April 14. At this hearing, before the interrogations of the politicians on trial were completed, the court asked the prosecutor to submit his final opinion. In response to this situation, the politicians on trial left the courtroom together with their lawyers. The prosecutor read out loud the 5,000-page opinion against the defendants, which took eight hours. In his final opinion, the prosecutor has ignored all the evidence that was put in the file in favor of the politicians on trial. The prosecutor deliberately distorted the evidence in the file and openly declared that he had given a political opinion, ignoring all evidence for the defense. The prosecutor has sought aggravated life imprisonment for all politicians on trial, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, over their alleged involvement in the 2014 Kobane protests. He has also demanded that arrest warrants be issued for 12 defendants who are standing trial without arrest and that the jailed politicians be kept imprisoned. The next hearing is scheduled for 3 July 2023 for the defense against the final opinion of the prosecutor by the politicians on trial and their lawyers.

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