"Kobanê trial" in Ankara adjourned to May 3
The start of the trial against leading politicians of the HDP in Ankara has been postponed for a week following fierce protests by the defendants and lawyers. The indictment was read out in the absence of the defense.
The first day of the hearing in the "Kobanê trial" against leading politicians of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in Ankara was accompanied by fierce protests by the defendants and the defense. A summary of the 3530-page indictment was read out in the absence of the defense. Requests for recusation were rejected, and the trial was adjourned until May 3.
108 defendants, 28 in custody, stand trial in the Kobane Case, the first hearing of which was held at the Sincan Prison Complex today. Some of the defendants were present in the hearing room, while other prominent politicians, such as former HDP co-chairs Fiğen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, attended via video conferencing system SEGBİS.
Already at the beginning of the hearing there were tumultuous scenes because some of the lawyers were not allowed into the courtroom. The protests continued during the reading of the indictment. The defendants, who attended the hearing via SEGBİS, held up slips of paper to the camera to say that their sound had been cut off. When the defense demanded speaking rights for the defendants and the request was rejected, the lawyers left the hearing room in protest.
Kurdish politician Sebahat Tuncel, who has been imprisoned since 2016, demanded recusation because the indictment was unlawfully read out in the absence of the defense. Fiğen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş also requested recusation with their own reasons. Demirtaş demanded respect for the HDP as the third largest party in Turkey and stated that he was not participating in the trial as a defendant, but to accuse.
Since it was not possible to continue the trial with the scheduled defense of the defendants, the session was closed and adjourned until May 3 at 9:30 a.m.
Background: Accused for solidarity with Kobanê
Accused in the trial are 108 figures from politics, civil society and the Kurdish liberation movement who are accused of terror crimes and murder in dozens of cases in connection with the protests during the IS attack on Kobanê in October 2014. For former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş alone, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is demanding up to 15,000 utopian years in prison. 28 of the defendants are imprisoned.
The Kobanê trial was triggered by a post by the HDP Executive Council on Twitter, which was written during an emergency meeting and, in addition to showing solidarity with the Kobanê city in West Kurdistan encircled by the IS, also called for an open-ended protest against the Turkish government for not ending its support for IS. The Twitter post in question read: "Urgent call to our peoples [...]! The situation in Kobanê is extremely critical. We call on our peoples to take to the streets and support those who are already on the streets to protest against the attacks of IS and against the embargo of the AKP government."
Dozens dead, hundreds injured
In the course of the uprising, street battles broke out in many cities between security forces and paramilitary units such as village guards and supporters of the radical Islamist Hezbollah and the demonstrators. The number of people killed, most of whom were participants in the uprising, varies between 46 (IHD) and 53. The government speaks of only 37 dead. Many of them were killed by shots fired by security forces. According to a report by the Human Rights Association (IHD), 682 people were injured during the protests. At least 323 people were arrested. In the course of the uprising, there were also arson attacks on stores as well as public facilities. The government holds the HDP responsible for the incidents.
ECtHR considers call as political speech
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara interprets the HDP headquarters' Twitter post as a call to violence. According to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), there is no evidence to support this assumption. In December, the Court found that the post was "within the bounds of political speech." To that extent, the tweet could not be construed as a call to violence, the chamber ruled, calling for the immediate release of the former HDP co-chairman.
ANF articles as prosecution evidence
Among other things, ANF articles about the political activities of the defendants as well as their statements and interviews are used as evidence in the 3530-page indictment. A total of 413 pages have been devoted to ANF reporting. Another 62 pages deal with the "structures of PKK/KCK," on whose instructions Selahattin Demirtaş is alleged by the chief public prosecutor to have made several statements, including after a visit to Kobanê on September 30, 2014.
The defendants in the Kobanê trial
The 108 defendants standing trial in Kobanê Case are: Figen Yüksekdağ, Sebahat Tuncel, Selahattin Demirtaş, Selma Irmak, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Gülfer Akkaya, Gülser Yıldırım, Gültan Kışanak, Ahmet Türk, Ali Ürküt, Alp Altınörs, Altan Tan, Ayhan Bilgen, Nazmi Gür, Ayla Akat Ata, Aysel Tuğluk, Ibrahim Binici, Ayşe Yağcı, Nezir Çakan, Pervin Oduncu, Meryem Adıbelli, Mesut Bağcık, Bircan Yorulmaz, Bülent Barmaksız, Can Memiş, Cihan Erdal, Berfin Özgü Köse, Günay Kubilay, Dilek Yağlı, Emine Ayna, Emine Beyza Üstün, Mehmet Hatip Dicle, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, Yurdusev Özsökmenler, Arife Köse, Ayfer Kordu (Besê Erzincan), Aynur Aşan, Ayşe Tonğuç, Azime Yılmaz, Bayram Yılmaz, Bergüzar Dumlu, Cemil Bayık, Ceylan Bağrıyanık, Cihan Ekin, Demir Çelik, Duran Kalkan, Elif Yıldırım, Emine Tekas, Emine Temel, Emrullah Cin, Engin Karaaslan, Enver Güngör, Ercan Arslan, Fatma Şenpınar, Fehman Huseyn (Bahoz Erdal), Ferhat Aksu, Filis Arslan, Filiz Duman, Gönül Tepe, Gülseren Törün, Gülten Alataş, Gülüşan Eksen, Gülüzar Tural, Güzel Imecik, Hacire Ateş, Hatice Altınışık, Hülya Oran (Besê Hozat), Ismail Özden (Zekî Şengalî, on 15. August 2018 in Şengal in a targeted attack by the Turkish Air Force), Ismail Şengül, Kamuran Yüksek, Layika Gültekin, Leyla Söğüt Aydeniz, Mahmut Dora, Mazhar Öztürk, Mazlum Tekdağ (killed in a Turkish airstrike in Medya Defense Zones on 1 October 2019), Abdulselam Demirkıran, Mehmet Taş, Mehmet Tören, Menafi Bayazit, Mizgin Arı, Murat Karayılan, Mustafa Karasu, Muzaffer Ayata, Nazlı Taşpınar (Emine Erciyes), Neşe Baltaş, Nihal Ay, Nuriye Kesbir (Sozdar Avesta), Remzi Kartal, Rıza Altun, Ruken Karagöz, Sabiha Onar, Sabri Ok, Salih Akdoğan, Salih Muslim, Salman Kurtulan, Sara Aktaş, Sibel Akdeniz, Şenay Oruç, Ünal Ahmet Çelen, Yahya Figan, Yasemin Becerekli, Yusuf Koyuncu, Yüksel Baran, Zeki Çelik, Zeynep Karaman, Zeynep Ölbeci and Zübeyir Aydar.