Sebahat Tuncel and Gültan Kışanak to remain in prison

The trial against the Kurdish politicians Sebahat Tuncel and Gültan Kışanak started in Malatya. The defendants called the trial a post-modern coup against the legal system.

The hearing of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) former term co-chair Sebahat Tuncel and Amed Metropolitan Municipality (DBB) former co-mayor Gültan Kışanak was held at the 1st Heavy Penal Court of Malatya on Monday.  The two Kurdish politicians were arrested at the end of 2016 and were sentenced to long prison terms in February 2019 on terrorism charges.

The former mayor of Amed (Diyarbakir), Gültan Kışanak, was sentenced to 14 years and three months and the DBP leader Sebahat Tuncel to 15 years imprisonment for "founding and leading an organization" and "organizational propaganda". Half a year ago, a Turkish appeal court overturned the sentence against Sebahat Tuncel and Gültan Kışanak.

The two defendants were brought from prison to the courtroom for the trial and made statements. Sebahat Tuncel, who was elected to the Turkish parliament as a political prisoner in 2007, said she was aware that her defence would not change anything in the outcome of the trial. Nevertheless, she said that it was important to record some facts for historiography: "This trial does not comply with international legal standards. I am talking about the one-man system, which is a post-modern coup against the legal system. There was a similar procedure in the Hitler era. The judiciary, parliament, human rights - everything is suspended. Anyone who objects is brought to justice. Intellectuals, artists, journalists, environmentalists, workers and academics are put on trial."

Furthermore, the politician, who has been imprisoned again since 2016, recalled that 25 million Kurds live in Turkey and suffer from political, cultural and economic problems. The Kurdish political movement is ready to solve these problems: "But this movement is being terrorised and suppressed. And what is happening? The movement is growing. It represents six million people in parliament. It is ready to solve the existing problems in the areas of democracy, women and ecology. The answer is: "If you don't obey, you have no rights and you are put in prisons that resemble concentration camps."

Gültan Kışanak, who as a 19-year-old resisted torture in the notorious Amed prison as early as 1980 after the military coup in Turkey, said in court on the accusation of terror propaganda that she would not let herself be banned from speaking: "Of course I will continue to speak out. That I as a politician participate in the activities of my party is not a crime, but a right enshrined in the constitution".

The trial was observed by HDP MPs Leyla Güven and Saliha Aydeniz as well as by numerous other politicians. The public prosecutor's office demanded that the arrest warrant be upheld. The hearing was adjourned until 9 March 2020.