The second hearing of the Kobani trial, in which Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members, including former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, are to be tried over the 6-8 October 2014 Kobani protests in Turkey, began on Tuesday in Ankara.
Members of the European Union (EU) Turkey Delegation and diplomatic representatives of the EU member states monitored the hearing, alongside HDP MPs and executives, human rights defenders and various civil society organisations from Turkey.
The first hearing, which took place on 26 April, sparked debate due to the attitude of the court committee. Lawyers left the court room twice in protest and accused the committee of being “unjust” and “biased”.
Outside the courthouse, during the second hearing, journalists faced police barricades once again and journalists who did not hold a press card accredited by the Presidential Office were banned from entering the court with their laptops and mobiles, according to MA.
Assisted by a group of nationalist organisations, Justice and Development Party (AKP) MP Leyla Şahin issued a press statement before the Sincan Prison where the Kobani trial is being held, and shared her “support” for the “court committee”, according to MA.
Demirtaş joined the second hearing over a video conference system from the Edirne F-type Prison, according to Yeni Yaşam.
An excerpt from Demirtaş’s speech regarding his “denial of judge” demand is as follows:
“I feel sorry that the politicians, who have made sacrifices for the peace, democracy and freedom of Turkey, now sit on the defence.
“This is not the Kobani case, this is a plot and a political revenge case against the HDP. One day in the future, the Kobani case will be opened and those who are really responsible, those who committed a massacre, will be revealed. Everybody should be sure that it will be not us sitting on the defence seats then.
“We will reveal why this plot was designed against us. The case itself, its purpose and its target, are all political. The principle of indictment has no value. In this case procedure is more important than the principle.
“The decision of the ECtHR [European Court of Human Rights] was announced on 22 December, but 20 days before the decision was announced, [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and [Devlet] Bahçeli had issued quite harsh statements against me, as if someone had heard the ECtHR rule before it was announced. The big brother of the Turkish judge in the ECtHR is a member of the [Justice and Development Party’s] AKP’s central executive committee. Erdoğan had said, 40 days before the ECtHR decision was announced, ‘Our judiciary will do what is necessary’. You have been executing this order since this indictment was delivered to your hands.
“You cannot consider a tweet, that was shared after a central executive committee meeting, a crime. A court that does not depend on the rule of law principle cannot try us. Before accusing us of something, you need to be acquitted of your charges.”
After Demirtaş’s speech, the hearing was recessed to be continued later with the rest of Demirtaş’s speech.
People’s Democratic Congress co-spokesperson Sedat Şenoğlu spoke during the recess with Artı TV and criticised the violations of “right to defence” which took place in the hearing.
“The defence’s demands are completely disregarded. This is like a theatre production,” he said. “The right to speak, the right to a defence, continue to be violated.”
He went on: “The attitude of the court committee continues the way it was in the first hearing. Despite the defendants rejection og the judge, the court committee behaves as if this is a normal hearing.”
HDP’s MP for Ankara, Filiz Kerestecioğlu, also shared her comments in front of the courthouse during a break in the hearing.
“Selahattin Demirtaş began his speech, but the judge tried to intervene. Since the first hearing, we face a situation where the judges want no one to make a speech, but everybody to make all their statements in written form,” Kerestecioğlu said. “Because they do not want them to talk, because they do not want their voices to reach the people.
“This is literally a plot, a conspiracy case,” she said. “Everybody should stand tall against it. We are not the ones being tried here, we are the ones who try them, but with certain procedural games they act as if it is they who try us, as if there are real judges and as if there is a real court formed here.”
The Kobani indictment, consisting of 3,530 pages, was prepared on 30 December 2020, six years and three months after the protests that took place on 6-8 October in Turkey. The indictment was presented to the court as a collection of 324 separate folders and accepted by Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court within a week on 7 January 2021.
Charged with offences including homicide and “attacking the integrity of the state”, the current and former politicians of the HDP, 28 of whom are already in prison, are facing 30 life sentences and thousands of years in prison.
Thirty-seven people died in massive protests across the mainly Kurdish provinces of the country after ISIS attacked the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani.