Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (26 April) on the beginning in Ankara of judicial proceedings in what is known as the Kobane Trial:
The harsh action, which has repeatedly attracted international criticism, being taken by Turkish authorities against the HDP party and its members nourishes doubts as to whether the trial beginning in Ankara today is suitable for addressing the tragic events in connection with what are referred to as the Kobane protests in 2014. Anyone attempting to criminalise the expression of political opinion is targeting the very foundation on which democracy is built.
We will closely observe these proceedings and we expect them to adhere to rule‑of‑law standards.
In particular, I call on Turkey to stop issuing dubious legal charges against Selahattin Demirtaş and instead finally release him in accordance with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
On 26 April 2021, legal proceedings will begin in Ankara against 108 defendants, many of whom are high-level members of the leftist Kurdish HDP opposition party, including the party’s former co‑chair. The trial is being held against the background of the demonstrations that took place in Turkey in 2014 as an expression of solidarity with the city of Kobane in northern Syria (Ayn al‑Arab in Arabic) that at the time was under siege by ISIS terrorists. The HDP had issued a call for the protests. Violent clashes occurred during the marches, killing several dozen people, mostly pro-Kurdish demonstrators. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found in a judgment dated 22 December 2020 that the HDP’s call for protests was within the remit of political free speech and did not constitute incitement to violence.