Lawyers protest the verdict in Kobanê Trial: We will fight against the darkness

Legal organisations protested the verdicts in the Kobanê Trial and said, "We do not recognise these sentences and we will fight against the darkness."

The final hearing of the lawsuit filed against 108 politicians, 18 of whom are in prison, including former Co-Chairs of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, for the protests against ISIS attacks on Kobanê on 6-8 October 2014, was held in Ankara yesterday, May 16th.

In the trial, which has been running for three years, 108 personalities from politics, civil society and the Kurdish freedom movement were indicted, including the entire former board of the HDP. They were accused of separatism, terrorism and murder for calling for protests in October 2014 against the Turkish government's support for the jihadist militia "Islamic State" (IS), which had invaded the city of Kobanê in Rojava, northern Syria. These protests led to violent clashes between the demonstrators, the police, the gendarmerie and IS-affiliated organisations, resulting in dozens of deaths. These deaths, most of whom were sympathisers of the HDP, were blamed in the indictment on the HDP leadership at the time and the party as a whole.

While all 36 defendants were acquitted of the murder charge, two dozen of the defendants were given partly draconian prison sentences by the Turkish judiciary. Former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, who have been imprisoned since November 2016, were sentenced to record sentences totalling 42 and over 30 years in prison respectively. The Marxist economist Alp Altınörs and activist Zeynep Karaman from the Kurdish women's movement received 22.5 years in prison and the 81-year-old co-mayor of Mardin, Ahmet Türk, received ten years. Sebahat Tuncel, Ayla Akat Ata, Meryem Adıbelli and Ayşe Yağcı from the Kurdish Women's Movement and the former mayor of Amed, Gültan Kışanak, were also sentenced, but were released on credit for their long pre-trial detention.

The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Association of Contemporary Lawyers (ÇHD), Lawyers for Justice, Lawyers for Democracy, Participatory Lawyers, Libertarian Democrat Lawyers and Society and Law Research Foundation (TOHAV) made a statement in front of Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan to protest the verdict in the Kobanê Case.

Many lawyers and representatives of organisations also participated in the demonstration. Before the statement, slogans such as "Kobanê has not fallen, it will not fall", "Bijî berxwedana Kobanê", (Long live the Kobanê resistance) "Bijî berxwedana zindanan" (Long live the prison resistence) and "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism" were frequently chanted.

ÖHD Istanbul Branch Executive Ruken Kalın stated that many unlawful acts occurred during the Kobanê Trial and said that the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) politicians were pursuing a politics focused on equality, freedom, labour and peace. Ruken Kalın underlined that the final verdict is disconnected from the truth and said, "The sentences given in the 'Kobanê Case’, which was commenced by the AKP-MHP government in order to suppress the legitimate and democratic demands of the Kurdish people, are of course the result of a political decision. The government is trying to lay the foundation of the monist regime it wants to create with this case. The policy of denial and annihilation imposed on the Kurdish people in the first century of the Republic with the sham trials held in the 'Eastern Independence Courts' is tried to be continued in the second century of the Republic with the 'Kobanê Conspiracy Case'."

Ruken Kalın said, "We shout that we will continue to defend freedom and light against ISIS barbarism and darkness, that we do not recognise the sentences given in the 'Kobanê Conspiracy Case', which was shaped with the understanding of enemy criminal law, and that we do not accept the policies of annihilation and we will fight against this darkness."