Peoples' Democratic Party (Turkey): A call to the international community and foreign missions in Turkey — Observe the Kobanî trial on 7-9 February


The Kobani Case was filed in 2020 against 108 people, including the Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) former co-chairs, Mr Selahattin Demirtaş and Ms Figen Yüksekdağ, current co-chair Ms Pervin Buldan, several current and former HDP deputies and mayors, and all the members of the HDP’s Central Executive Board of 2014. This case was launched as a counter-move by the Turkish government just two weeks after the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights made its final judgment demanding the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtaş. The indictment in the Kobani Case is based on a Twitter message posted by the HDP on 6 October 2014. This called for democratic protests in solidarity with the people of Kobanî, a Kurdish town in Northern Syria that was fighting against the attacks of ISIS, and also against Turkey’s embargo on the town. The prosecutor is calling for all the defendants to be given aggravated life sentences (without parole) 38 times for the crimes of “destroying the unity of the state and the integrity of the country” and “premeditated murder.” Seventeen politicians are currently being held in pre-trial detention for this case.

In the first hearing of the case, the court board was changed before the hearing started. On the first day of the hearing, the court was filled with law enforcement officers, even in the sections reserved for lawyers. While the trial was pending, the president of the court was dismissed and put under house arrest on the grounds that he was a member of a criminal organization. The court has so far taken multiple decisions that directly violate, or even deny, the right to defense, and therefore the right to a fair trial. These unlawful decisions include the continuation of the hearings in two-week periods without a break, secret witnesses’ statements full of contradictions, and the limitation of the duration of the defense to one day for the defendants and their lawyers. The court decided to send the file to the prosecutor for his obiter dictum, without even an interrogation of the defendants, including of the HDP’s former co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.

The Kobani case is closely linked with the closure case filed against the HDP, for which it serves as a pretext. In the closure case, the prosecution is mainly based on the alleged role and responsibility of the HDP in the murders that occurred during the Kobani protests in 2014. We should stress that the Grand Chamber of the ECtHR has already examined these allegations in the case of Selahattin Demirtaş and concluded that neither Demirtaş nor HDP had any responsibility for the murders.

We would like to invite the international community and foreign missions in Turkey to observe the 21st hearing of the Kobanî case on 7-9 February 2023 in Sincan Prison Campus, Ankara. The hearings will start at 10:00 am each day. As Turkey approaches elections, we believe that this case, which will surely affect HDP’s closure case, needs to be followed meticulously.