Turkey: HDP calls for international solidarity as show trial begins

Issue 
Protest in support of the HDP in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Peter Boyle

The progressive Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey has called for international solidarity on April 26 when one of two major court cases against this major parliamentary opposition party begins in the capital, Ankara.

This case, widely known as the “Kobanî Case” is a criminal prosecution against 108 people, including HDP former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, the HDP’s current co-chair Pervin Buldan, several current and former HDP deputies and mayors, and many others. They are “charged” with calling for solidarity for the people of Kobanî (also known as Kobane) in North-East Syria when they were besieged by Islamic State (ISIS)/Daesh terrorist gangs in 2014.

The other case, which is still pending, is a move by the Turkish state to ban the HDP.

The HDP supported calls from Kurds and their supporters for Turkey to open a corridor through its territory to allow supplies and support to get to Kobanî. The Turkish state refused and instead strengthened its military forces and fortifications on the border with Syria near Kobanî.

The HDP then organised mass protests in Turkey, which were met with violence from the Turkish state and from pro-ISIS gangs. Nearly 50 people were killed in clashes and hundreds injured.

The state accuses the HDP of causing the deaths of 37 people, 27 of whom were actually HDP members or supporters and of inciting violence in collaboration with the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The HDP has tabled many proposals to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate the protests but all of these proposals were rejected by the Turkish government.

As the HDP pointed out in a to the trial issued on March 27, the indictment demands a 15,000-year-plus prison sentence for Demirtaş alone and contradicts a finding by the European Court of Human Rights on December 22, that the HDP’s Kobanî protest call “remained within the limits of political speech, in so far as they cannot be construed as a call for violence”.

The claims that the HDP incited violence are based on three tweets posted on the HDP’s Twitter account that called for solidarity with the people of Kobanî, who were facing a ferocious military offensive by Daesh terrorists at the time.

The ECHR found that the acts of violence “regrettable though they were, cannot be seen as a direct consequence of the tweets in question”.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, observers to the trial are strictly limited, so the HDP has appealed for international solidarity actions on April 26, using the hashtags #SolidarityWithHDP and #DefendKobani.

Actions are already planned for the European, German and British parliaments and outside the Turkish embassy in Sweden.

Reports and photos of solidarity actions should be sent to the HDP via its European Twitter address @HDP_europe or to this .