« We are paying the price of supporting the Peace Process » / Bianet English

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Kobani trial, where 108 individuals are being prosecuted, including former Co-Chairpersons of HDP Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, former Co-Chairperson of DBP Sebahat Tuncel, Honorary Chairperson of HDP Ertuğrul Kürkçü, and members of the HDP Central Executive Committee, continues in its 31st session. Published by Bianet English, on 14th of September 2023.

The 31st session of the Kobani trial continues with its 2nd hearing at the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court on the Sincan Prison Campus. 

After politicians Ahmet Türk and Gülser Yıldırım presented their defenses on Tuesday (September 12), Yıldırım’s lawyers spoke yesterday. The trial will continue today. 

Ahmet Türk defended their role in the peace process 

Speaking at the court on Tuesday (September 12), politician Ahmet Türk stated that this trial is political and was opened on instructions. Evaluating the indictment as « Fairy tales from Andersen, » Türk said, « We also experienced Diyarbakır Prison during the September 12 coup in 1980. We have made efforts for society to come together. There is an attitude that portrays our legal ideas and actions as illegal. What kind of democracy is this? We are experiencing a process where the judiciary has become politicized, » he said.

« We are saddened by this. Every one of our people made contributions to the struggle in Kobani. An understanding that considers these aids as a crime! We escorted the convoy of these aids with the Governor of Mardin. A speech I made about raising a voice against what happened in Kobani is included in this indictment. So, are we going to defend the ISIS murderers? » he asked.

« We held the first meeting in the Peace Process. »

Türk, who stated that he has been involved in politics for 50 years, pointed out that in the indictment, the people valuing him is considered as « membership in an organization. »

The Kurdish politician added: « We had the first meeting in the Peace Process. So, how did we do it? The Prison Director took us to the ferry in Istanbul. On whose instructions? We did this duty upon the instructions of the Prime Minister and the President, and we played a role in the Peace Process. (…) If we went to Kobani and Kandil, these were done with the knowledge of the state. If you are trying us, also try those who sent us, try those who initiated this process. »

Ahmet Türk objected to the inclusion of the issues on which he was acquitted long before and what he has written and defended since the past in this case: « The thought and opinion crimes for which I was acquitted have been included in the indictment as if something new and significant has been discovered. What does this have to do with the trial? All these were allegations settled by the court in the 90s and 80s. The inclusion of these in the indictment is an understanding that looks hostile to our existence and future. We reject this understanding. »

Gülser Yıldırım’s defense

Gülser Yıldırım, who appeared in court yesterday and delivered her defense in Kurdish, stated that she had read the indictment and that there was no evidence in the indictment to make a defense.

Yıldırım, who claimed that they paid the price for contributing to the peace process and being in favor of peace, said in court: « Our party sincerely and seriously became a partner in this solution process. However, apparently, there was insincerity, and today this insincerity is directed at us. »

The Kurdish politician concluded her words as follows: « We are in favor of dialogue, solution, and peace. We are on trial today because we did our duty yesterday and contributed to the solution process. We are not the ones who want conflict; we are not putting the solution process on trial. We want dialogue to be re-established in this country. We are still in favor of peace, and today, we are paying the price for it. »

« YPG’s fight against ISIS was recognized at that time »

After politician Gülser Yıldırım presented her defense the day before yesterday, her lawyers spoke yesterday

Lawyer Azat Yıldırım reminded that the struggle of YPG against ISIS was recognized by the government at that time.

Yıldırım, stating that the state did not define YPG as a « terrorist organization » at that time, said, « YPG was not defined as a ‘terrorist organization,’ even on the detention dates of the HDP co-chairs and other party members. In this context, the law cannot be applied retroactively. »

« HDP had tweeted at that time when a civilian segment joined protests against ISIS. There was no mention of violence in the tweet. Protest is a right. Our questions about how the tweet incited violence remain unanswered, » the lawyer added.

Yıldırım also reminded during the hearing that HDP members suffered the most damage and loss of life during the protests and subsequent acts of violence on the side of the border in Turkey during ISIS’s attack on Kobani in northern Syria.

Lawyer Kuzu: Everyone should be acquitted

Lawyer Erdal Kuzu, who spoke next, said, « This case has been conducted based on an investigation led by someone within the mafia. For this reason, this case should end, and all deputies should be acquitted. »

What happened in the Kobani protests?

The 2014 Kobanî protests are large-scale rallies by pro-People’s Defense Units (YPG) protestors in Turkey in the autumn 2014, in reaction to the siege of Kobanî launched by the ISIS. 

Large demonstrations unfolded in Turkey, and quickly descended into violence between protesters and the Turkish police. 

Before the protests, those who were waiting in the district of Suruç, Urfa in southeastern Turkey and wanted to cross the border to enter Kobani were intervened with pepper gas and rubber bullets. In the meantime, some pictures allegedly showing ISIS militia crossing the border of Turkey were published.

President and Chairperson of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made statements indicating that they equated PKK with ISIS and one saying « Kobani is just about to fall ». 

While the wounded coming from Kobani were kept waiting on the border, the wounded from ISIS were treated at hospitals. Several news reports in the press were published, reporting that « Kobani fell. »

After the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) made a call to take to the streets against a possible ISIS massacre in Kobani, thousands of people protested in Kurdish-majority provinces as well as Ankara and İstanbul. While left parties also supported these protests, deaths occurred with the onset of police violence. Street conflicts ensued and 12 people were killed initially. A total of 42 people lost their lives from October 6 to 12, 2014.

According to a report by the Human Rights Association (İHD), 46 people died, 682 people were wounded and 323 people were arrested in the protests held between October 6 and 8, 2014. As reported by the Anadolu Agency, 31 people lost their lives, 221 citizens and 139 police officers were wounded. 

Published by Bianet English, on 14th of September 2023.

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