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New indictment seeks sentences for 5 former MPs from pro-Kurdish party over Kobani protests

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Turkish prosecutors have drafted an indictment seeking prison sentences for five former lawmakers from a pro-Kurdish party due to their alleged role in violent protests that erupted in southeastern Turkey over a siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014, the Diken news website reported.

The new indictment levels various charges on former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers Hüda Kaya, Serpil Kemalbay Pekgözegü, Garo Paylan, Fatma Kurtulan and Pero Dundar.

This is the second indictment drafted for the Kurdish politicians due to their alleged role in the Kobani protests and comes shortly after an Ankara court sentenced 24 other HDP politicians for their alleged roles in the deadly protests in 2014 to prison terms ranging from nine to 42 years, while acquitting 12 other politicians who had been on trial with them.

The trial, which has lasted nearly three years, centered on the events of October 6-8, 2014, when ISIL laid siege to Kobani. Protests erupted across Turkey, particularly in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern provinces, resulting in 37 deaths. There were 108 defendants in the trial including former HDP co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

The Turkish government accused the HDP leaders of inciting the violence, while the defendants maintained that their calls for solidarity with Kobani were within the bounds of freedom of expression.

According to the second indictment, the five politicians should also be tried on the same charges faced by the politicians in the first Kobani trial on the grounds that they joined the HDP executives and politicians in calling on the people to take to the streets.

If the indictment is accepted by the court, the five politicians will stand trial on multiple charges, ranging from attempting to “destroy the unity and integrity of the state” and “membership in a terrorist organization” to “murder,” which call for various sentences, including aggravated life.

The Kobani trial has significant political implications, especially for Kurdish politicians, who have been under intense pressure from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. The government’s stance hardened following the failure of peace talks with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015, leading to a more nationalist and anti-Kurdish policy.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and its Western allies.

The ongoing detentions of Kurdish politicians have drawn significant attention and criticism from both local and international observers who argue that the charges against them are politically motivated and part of an ongoing government crackdown on Kurds.

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