Feb 15 2018

Televise my trial - Kurdish opposition leader

Selahattin Demirtaş, the former leader of one of Turkey's opposition parties, took the stand on the second day of his trial on terrorism charges to challenge the government to televise the hearings.

Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Demirtaş accused the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Thursday of using its hold over the media to unfairly influence the outcome of trial.

"This is a trial by media. If they trust the media that much, why not televise the trial?” said Demirtaş.

Arrested 15 months ago, Demirtaş stands accused of “leading a terrorist organisation,” “inciting hate,” and “campaigning on behalf of a terrorist organisation.”

During his six-hour testimony in front of the court, Demirtaş said his party had been scapegoated for the failure of the Turkish government’s Kurdish peace process policies.

The AKP government ran a “Kurdish opening” between 2009 and 2015 to end decades of conflict between the Turkish armed forces and insurgents from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The peace process collapsed in July 2015, amid reports that the PKK had targeted Turkish police officers in bombings a month after the HDP became the first pro-Kurdish political party to pass the ten percent electoral threshold and be voted into Turkish parliament.

“The government has opted to pass the blame for the failure of the peace process to the HDP,” said Demirtaş, who went on to accuse the ruling party of using criminal means to target HDP members, a large number of whom were arrested on a single day by separate orders from six state prosecutors.

“This is something that only the government could coordinate,” said Demirtaş.

50 lawyers, the newly elected HDP Co-chair Sezai Temelli and HDP deputies attended the hearings. A representative of the Berlin State Parliament, Hakan Taş, was refused permission to attend.

Click here for the original piece in Turkish.