Court accepts indictment against jailed Kurdish leaders over Kobani protests

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A Turkish court has accepted an indictment naming 108 people including jailed Kurdish leaders Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ in connection to street protests in the country’s Southeast in 2014 that claimed the lives of 37 people, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

The indictment, accepted by the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court, seeks punishment for the 108 suspects on various charges including 37 cases of homicide and disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state.

The court has not yet set a date for the first hearing of the trial, and lawyers for the defendants are trying to obtain a copy of the indictment, according to Mezopotamya.

In early October a Turkish court ordered the pre-trial detention of 17 people, including senior pro-Kurdish opposition members, in connection with the Kobani protests.

At the time Demirtaş called for street protests in support of Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help to Kobani and of supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which had laid siege to the town.

The protests later morphed into fierce clashes between pro and anti-Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) groups in which 53 people were killed.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US. It took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984, and more than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ, who were co-chairpersons of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) at the time, were arrested in November 2016 on bogus terrorism charges and have been behind bars since then.

Turkey keeps Demirtaş in prison despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights, which called for his immediate release in separate rulings in 2018 and December 2020.

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