Thursday, January 20, 2022

Turkey begins trial of top pro-Kurdish politician, others

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The trial of a prominent pro-Kurdish politician and 107 others related to violent protests six years ago linked to the conflict in Syria began in Ankara on Monday.

Selahattin Demirtas, the jailed former co-chair of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, was among the accused, as were several HDP members and ex-lawmakers.

The allegations were linked to protests and riots across Turkey from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8 2014, that were triggered when the Islamic State terrorist group laid siege to Kobane, a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria.

The government had accused the HDP of inciting people to join the demonstrations, in which 37 people were killed, according to the indictment cited by state news agency Anadolu.

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The charges include “disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state” murder, attempted murder, burning the national flag and looting.

Anadolu said 28 defendants were in custody.

Demirtas has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016 on various terrorism-related charges.

In December, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered Turkey to immediately release him after ruling that his rights to liberty and free expression were violated.

International rights groups say Demirtas and other Kurdish politicians were targeted because of their political opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan condemned the ECHR, saying it must know it is “defending a terrorist,” and calling Demirtas a person who, under the mask of a politician, has the blood of tens of innocent people on his hands.

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The government accuses the HDP, a legal political party of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, a designated terrorist group.

dpa/NAN

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