Jailed Kurdish politician Demirtaş: Intermediaries first to be scapegoated in Kurdish solution process in Turkey

Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP) said on Thursday that his detention on November 4, 2016 was coordinated by the political power and added that “The intermediaries have been the first to be scapegoated in the (Kurdish) solution process.”

The hearing in the case of Demirtaş continues on its second day at the courtroom within the Sincan Prison Campus in Ankara. Demirtaş is accused of being an administrator of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and being the head of its political section.

Demirtaş is charged with “founding and running a terrorist organization,” “terrorist propaganda” and “praising crimes and criminals.” He denies the charges but faces up to 142 years in prison if convicted. The HDP, the third-largest party in the Turkish parliament, denies authorities’ accusations of links to the PKK

Demirtas, who won votes beyond his Kurdish core constituency in recent elections, also faces up to four years in jail on the charges of insulting Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. HDP has been hammered by a crackdown that followed an abortive coup in Turkey in July 2016. As many as 5,000 of party members have been detained, HDP says, while several of its lawmakers have also been stripped of their parliamentary status.

According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), Demirtaş said during his hearing before the court on Thursday that “The case was prepared through the media. If they trust so much in the media, I wish the hearing would be broadcast live. When it’s time to accuse me, everything is extremely public, and when it comes to the hearing there are so many precautions in place. This is a case process that is attempted to be taken away from the people and the public. The government is trying to hide the hearing from the public.”

According to the report, as Demirtaş continued his criticism of the hearing, the court chair said that “Anybody who wishes to watch can do so.” Demirtaş replied that “If anybody who wishes to watch could do so, there would be 500,000 people watching.” The court chair said they let everybody in, to which Demirtaş responded that “Not everyone who wants to is able to be here. Even if they did, in the end, there are 50 allocated seats.”

Demirtaş has continued to say that “The president of this country didn’t send his son in for a deposition in the December 17-25 period. Erdoğan and (Abdullah) Gül both said in separate occasions that they were the ones who stopped (head of National Intelligence Organisation) Hakan Fidan for going in for a deposition. Which judiciary did they not trust in? The one they wanted to send us to. He says that I am a terrorist…”

Demirtaş also spoke about the process after they were detained. On the simultaneous house raids against several HDP deputies on November 4, 2016 on the order of 6 prosecutors. Demirtaş said that “This is something only the political will can coordinate.” He added that on the day of their detention a plane was waiting in the Diyarbakır Airport to take them to prison. Demirtaş said as they were in detention, places for them were prepared in Silivri Prison in İstanbul and Kandıra Prison in İzmit, that his document was written for the Kandıra Prison, which was then later crossed out in front of him and Edirne Prison written instead.

Demirtaş stressed that they did so much for the success of the solution process and continued that “We had said, ‘One day if the solution process is successful, somebody will wear the medal. But if it fails, we will be asked to answer for it.’ The intermediaries are the first to be scapegoated in the solution process. One aspect of this case is this. A perception that ‘HDP and the Co-chair Demirtaş are responsible for the failure of the solution process’ was created and many summaries were written over this.”

Demirtaş has also stressed that they were taken to whichever prison was the furthest away where there was an ongoing case and said that “If the judiciary was in such a hurry that they had to raid our homes in the middle of the night and take us in, they could have just detained us from the parliament one day before. They were in such a hurry that they had to raid the homes. They put us in the holding cells for one day and then they immediately wanted to take our depositions. They wanted to put us in a court room as soon as possible. But the same judiciary is silent when the process takes one to a prison 1,150 km away. In the Edirne Prison, without any reason given, all our meetings had been recorded.”

This is the first time Demirtaş is present in the court room during the hearing of the main case he is in remand for. The case filed in Diyarbakır, but it had been moved to the Ankara’s 19th High Criminal Court citing security concerns. Thirty-three lawsuits have been filed against Demirtaş last year and the ongoing case is a combination of the 31 summaries sent to the Parliament to lift his immunity.

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