Kobanê trial resumes on Monday

By order of the Erdogan government, the Kobanê trial against 108 defendants, including the entire former HDP board, is to be ended as soon as possible. The next main hearing will take place on Monday. Lawyers call for solidarity.

The fifth main hearing in the “Kobanê Trial” will take place in Ankara on Monday. In the run-up to the hearing, HDP MP Züleyha Gülüm and three defense lawyers for the 108 defendants again pointed out the political background of the proceedings and called for solidarity.

Among the defendants is the entire board of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) at the time, including former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ. Twenty of the accused are in jail. Figen Yüksekdağ's lawyer Ezgi Güngördü said at a press conference in Istanbul on Friday that the trial has been characterized by illegality and formal irregularities from the very beginning. “It is a political trial against the opposition. We therefore call on all democratic civil society organizations to come and observe the trial in solidarity."

"They want the HDP removed from the political arena"

Lawyer Ramazan Demir, who is part of Selahattin Demirtaş's defense team, described the proceedings as the final of a procedure that began five years ago with the arrest of HDP MPs and executives on 4 November 2016. On this day it became clear how the government and President Erdogan intervened in the judiciary. “This has also been confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights in its judgment. The judiciary, the government, the state, all opposed the ECHR judgment. We have said from the start that this is a stillborn trial. For the first time in its history, the ECHR issued a judgment on a matter that had not yet been brought before it. It did this to show Turkey that it knows what it is trying to do. When the second arrest warrant was issued against Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, we presented the evidence to the ECHR. At that time, the Grand Chamber's verdict on the illegality of Demirtaş's detention had not yet been pronounced. The Grand Chamber has examined the evidence of the prosecution in the Kobanê trial and publicly exposed Turkey's intentions. It stated that the second arrest warrant was a continuation of the first and called for Selahattin Demirtaş to be released. The verdict was very clear. Thereafter, the same evidence was presented again. A legal simulation game takes place. That is why the Kobanê trial is rightly called a conspiracy process. We are dealing with judges and a government that disregard the European human rights treaty and the Constitution. The ECHR and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe also see this. At its meeting in September, the committee reiterated its statements and called for the proceedings to be discontinued. There is no doubt worldwide that this trial is directed against the legal Kurdish politics and the HDP because the HDP should be removed from the political stage."

"The court is ordered to end the trial quickly"

Züleyha Gülüm, who is herself a lawyer and member of the legal policy commission of the HDP, said: “We said from the beginning that this procedure was opened by order of the government and that the judicial system follows these orders. Various documents have since shown that it is a conspiracy. The court has been ordered to bring proceedings to a conclusion as soon as possible. As with the imposition of trustees to the municipalities and city councils, the result of this process will not be limited to the HDP."

What happens if the ECHR judgment is not implemented?

When asked by a journalist what the defense will do if the ECHR judgment is not implemented, lawyer Ramazan Demir replied: “It is not us but the Council of Europe that will act. The procedure is actually clear. The Committee of Ministers will tighten controls. The rulings on Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtaş clearly state what needs to be done. Above all, both must be released. However, release from prison is not enough, they must be acquitted in all proceedings. At the September meeting, the Committee of Ministers called for the Kobanê process and similar proceedings to be terminated. Turkey continues to play deaf, but it cannot do that forever. That is why the meeting of the Committee of Ministers in December is important. Turkey has been given the deadline of 30 November for the release of Kavala. Ultimately, the Council of Europe will have to impose sanctions on Turkey. The final consequence is expulsion from the Council of Europe. We don't know whether it will come to that, but the Committee of Ministers will definitely react more sharply than before to the disregard of the ECHR rulings."

Background: Accused of solidarity with Kobanê

Accused in the so-called Kobanê trial in Ankara are 108 personalities from politics and civil society. They are accused of terrorist offenses and dozens of murder in connection with the protests during the Islamic State attack on Kobanê in October 2014. For the former HDP chairman Selahattin Demirtaş alone, the public prosecutor's office is demanding up to 15,000 years’ imprisonment. 28 of the accused are currently in prison.

ANF ​​articles as evidence of the prosecution

In the 3530-page indictment, among other things, ANF articles about the political activities of the accused as well as their statements and interviews are used as evidence. A total of 413 pages have been devoted to ANF reporting.