Demirtas charged with new offences in bid to keep the Kurdish politician in jail
POPULAR Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas was charged with responsibility for a range of killings in Turkey today in a bid to keep him in jail after a European court ruled that he must be released.
Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan filed the charges following a Cabinet meeting on December 28, it was reported today.
Mr Erdogan has indicted 108 politicians on terrorist charges, including Mr Demirtas and Figen Yukeskdag who are both former co-chairs of the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
Mr Erdogan demanded the conviction of all 108 defendants for “destroying the unity of the state and the entirety of the country,” and 37 counts of murder relating to the so-called Kobane protests that took place in October 2014.
At the time HDP called for indefinite protests against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over its support for jihadists and refusal to allow aid and support to reach the Syrian border town of Kobane, which was under siege from Isis.
But street battles ensued as the Turkish state sought to put down the demonstrations, mobilising soldiers, police officers and village guards along with members of the Islamist Turkish Hezbollah.
Between 46 and 53 people were killed and 682 people injured with 323 arrests made in the clampdown, according to a report by the Human Rights Association.
In a bizarre twist, Mr Erdogan has charged the HDP with responsibility for the incidents .
Twenty-seven politicians are currently behind bars.
Erdogan said that the charges were filed against Mr Demirtas as “the main perpetrator of events.”
The decision has raised eyebrows, coming days after a December 22 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that the former HDP leader should be released immediately.
Turkey has ignored the court’s decision, insisting that it does not apply and the lawyer’s appeal for his release has been dismissed.
The response from the international community has been somewhat muted and Turkey’s refusal to abide by the binding decision presents a challenge to both the authority of the court and the willingness of Council of Europe member states to take concrete action.
When the ECHR has delivered similar rulings in the past Turkey has simply brought further charges against Mr Demirtas, saying that he cannot be released as a result.
The latest charges are deemed to be part of Turkey’s reluctance to free a political leader who commands respect and popular support.