A delegation from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) of the European Parliament was prevented on Wednesday morning from entering the courthouse in Ankara where the trial of Figen Yüksekdağ, co-chairman of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), was being held.
Along with Italian Member of the European Parliament Eleonora Forenza, human rights lawyers and parliamentarians from other European countries were barred by Turkish riot police and security personnel from observing the trial of the HDP co-leader.
Forenza denounced the presence of such heavy security for a trial that is supposed to be public and transparent and has criticized the Turkish state for its authoritarianism with regards to the proceedings, according to a press release from the GUE/NGL issued on Wednesday.
The MEP has vowed to return to the courthouse on Thursday for the trial of Yüksekdağ’s colleague and fellow HDP leader, Selahattin Demirtaş, and is hopeful that the regrettable situation will not be repeated.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court ruled to continue the detention of Yüksekdağ and adjourned the trial until Feb. 20 2018.
According to an indictment first prepared by the Van Public Prosecutor’s Office, Yüksekdağ is accused of using the word “martyr” for outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members during an HDP congress in Van on April 9, 2016.
The indictment demanded up to 10 years in jail on charges of terror organization propaganda and revealing a clear and present danger to public order.
Yüksekdağ was sentenced to 10 months in 2016 for participating in 2012 in the funeral ceremony of a member of a terrorist group affiliated with PKK.
In April 2017, the İstanbul 22nd High Criminal Court handed down a prison sentence of one year to Yüksekdağ for disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.
She was sentenced on June 6, 2017 to 18 months in prison by another court for spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization.
The Adana 11th Penal Court of First Instance in June 2017 handed down a sentence to Yüksekdağ of one year in prison for a speech she made during a press event in Adana on Oct. 12, 2015.
Yüksekdağ’s parliamentary status was removed in February after the Supreme Court of Appeals upheld a sentence handed down to her in 2013.
Yüksekdağ was arrested in a police operation on Nov. 4 of last year along with eight HDP deputies including the other HDP co-chair, Demirtaş.
Turkey has stepped up its crackdown on Kurdish politicians in recent months. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast, while hundreds of local Kurdish politicians as well as 9 HDP deputies, including the party’s co-chairs, are behind bars on terror charges.
Meanwhile, Demirtaş will present his defense through a voice and video informatics system, SEGBİS, in a hearing to be held at Sincan Prison in Ankara on Dec. 7, 399 days after his arrest. The trials of both Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş are being heard by the Ankara 16th High Criminal Court.
According to pro-Kurdish media, a brief of Yüksekdağ’s speech at her third hearing is as follows:
“The judiciary in Turkey has never been fully independent, but then again it has never been as dependent as now, never under so much pressure. It is very clear that there is a hand applying pressure on this case.
Representatives of international institutions and politicians are not being allowed into the court room because they are ‘foreign.’ This shows how much Turkey has isolated itself from the world, how much it has become alienated to human and judicial values. They are not the ones that are foreign, it is this place that is strange.
The legal justice system, the economic justice system and the political justice system in Turkey have come to such a point that the whole country has come to the brink of rot and collapse because of the irresponsibility of the ruling political power.
The coup in Turkey did not begin on July 15. July 15 was merely the outcome. The coup mechanism began to operate with interventions targeting the field of politics. The removal of our parliamentary immunity was the clearest sign of the transition into the coup phase.
We are not being tried by the panel of judges at court, but the AKP, the ruling political party. The ruling power did not feel the need to hide this, as for the judges, they see no harm in concealing it.
On June 7 [2015, general election], the people gave an ultimatum, saying, ‘It is time for change, we want a libertarian and fair political sphere.’ The response of the ruling political power to this ultimatum was to press the button for the annihilation of the platform of democratic politics.
The ruling political power has sorted out the media and all state institutions from head to toe, and HDP politicians are in prison, and it has formed its holy coalition. So what obstacle remains? The political situation, and the social and economic life in Turkey is much worse than it was a year ago. The inflation rate stands at 13 percent. Everyday, the Interior Minister announces a new death toll. How many more deaths will it take so that no on else dies in Turkey? When will this list end?
The discourse recently has been about the ‘survival of the state, the security of the nation…’ Yes, Turkey is in fact facing a problem of survival, and the root cause of this problem of survival is the ruling party.
In this country, everything is done to put on trial journalists, academics, those who raise their voice for peace and democracy. You throw your weight around when it comes to us, but the ruling party is incapable of trying bribers and thieves, so they get tried in the United States.
Look at the content of the charges we face: That we criticized the death toll, the clashes… Turkey has now entered the top 5, alongside the most chaotic countries, in civilian deaths. But, it is a crime to speak truth to the ruling power. But we have to show our concern.
I call upon this court: If you already have a decision, let us not continue this process… It is an insult both to me, and yourself. I am talking about a 7-year old child who was murdered, and about a woman whose lifeless body was exhibited naked in the streets. You, on the other hand, are the ones who define my act as the act of a terrorist organization.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)