Call for the release of the imprisoned defendants in the Kobanê trial

Ahead of the trial for defendants in the so-called Kobanê trial in Ankara, the DEM party, the trade union organisation KESK and the Human Rights Association (IHD) called for the release of the imprisoned politicians.

The Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) Co-Chairs Tülay Hatimoğulları and Tuncer Bakırhan made a statement before the hearing of the Kobanê Case in Sincan Prison Campus on Wednesday. The press statement was attended by the Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions (KESK) Co-Chairs Ayfer Koçak and Ahmet Karagöz, Human Rights Association (IHD) Co-Chair Hüseyin Küçükbalaban, DEM Party Ankara provincial and district organisation executives, DEM Party MPs and many people.

CHP Group Deputy Chair Ali Mahir Başarır, CHP Deputy Chair Gül Çiftçi, MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu and MP Aliye Timisi Ersever, who are part of the delegation assigned by the CHP to follow the case, also attended the statement.

Remarking that the politicians are on trial for calling for action against ISIS brutality, Tuncer Bakırhan stated that the Kobanê trial is the most recent example of politically motivated trials in Turkey's history: "There is no criminal offence and no evidence, the entire trial has no content. We expect our friends who have been imprisoned for years for no reason to be released today. We demand an acquittal and point out the court's responsibility. There are no rights and freedoms in this country, the judiciary is politically influenced. The court can break this perception if it makes a decision of historic significance. I hope that both the court and the government will recognise the will of the people of Turkey in the local elections on 31 March. The people finally want freedom and democracy."

Tülay Hatimoğulları said that the resistance against ISIS in Kobanê was supported in solidarity worldwide: "It wasn't just the HDP, all democratic forces from Turkey supported this resistance and cursed ISIS. ISIS is still a great danger to humanity today. Demanding a 37 times aggravated life sentence because of a tweet means digging a grave for the already dead justice system and burying it under a pile of stones. We say that this mistake can be reversed. We demand the release of our comrades."

A total of 108 personalities from politics, civil society and the Kurdish freedom movement are accused in the mammoth trial, including the entire former executive committee of DEM's predecessor party, the HDP. They are accused of murder in dozens of cases as well as "incitement to insurrection" and "dividing the unity and integrity of the country" in connection with protests between 6 and 8 October 2014 against the ISIS attack on Kobanê. The charge is based on a Twitter message posted by the HDP on 6 October 2014. The message called for democratic protests in solidarity with the people of Kobanê in northern Syria. The Public Prosecutor General's Office is demanding aggravated life imprisonment with no prospect of release.

Many of the defendants have been in prison since November 2016. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) categorises their arrest as politically motivated and has ordered their release several times. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe also called for the release of the former HDP MPs in March. Turkey is ignoring these decisions.

The defendants in prison are the former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, as well as Gültan Kışanak, Sebahat Tuncel, Alp Altınörs, Ayka Akat Ata, Ali Ürküt, Ayşe Yağcı, Bülent Barmaksız, Dilek Yağcı, Günay Kubilay, İsmail Şengül, Meryem Adıbelli, Nazmi Gür, Pervin Oduncu, Zeynep Karaman, Aynur Aşan and Zeynep Ölbeci.