Kobanê Case: Kurdish political genocide in triangle of Judiciary-Bureaucracy-Law Enforcement!

ANKARA - The decision in the Kobanê Case is expected on May 16. In the case, in which all allegations were refuted during the 8-year period, the relationship of the court members with criminal organizations was revealed. Detainee and non-detainee politicians, on the other hand, frequently emphasized in their historical defense that they were those who judged, not those who were tried.
The protests carried out by the people on 6-8 October 2014 against ISIS's attacks on Kobanê, which went down in history as the Kobanê Serhildani, became a part of the concept of political genocide when a lawsuit was filed against the People's Democratic Party (HDP) administration years later. The process, which started in 2014 by combining multiple criminal complaints into two main investigations by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and continued with the political coup on November 4, 2016, will result in the decision to be made in the trial that has been going on for more than 3 years. At the hearing to be held on May 16, a decision is expected regarding 108 names, 18 of which are detained.
How did the imprisoned politicians' defense of "democratic politics being tried here" materialize with the unlawfulness in the trial, which started with the first hearing on April 26, 2021 at the Sincan Prison Campus Hearing Hall and continued for 1111 days?
Although the protests of 6-8 October 2014 are considered as the turning point of the latest "genocidal" attacks on Kurdish politics, the protests started much earlier. ISIS attacks began on Kobanê Canton in Rojava, the first in July 2014, and the second on September 16, 2014, after the Yazidi Genocide in the Shengal region. Demonstrations began in the cities of Kurdistan and Turkey in order to show solidarity with the Kobanê resistance and to protest ISIS's attacks on all groups and beliefs that are different from itself, especially the Yazidi people. However, those in power, especially President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, tried to cover up the historical reality after the June 7, 2015 elections with their statements that "the people took to the streets."
On October 5, 2014, the protests started after PYD Co-chair Salih Müslim's urgent call for solidarity regarding Kobanê. Call spread in Kurdistan and Turkey after PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan's meeting with his brother Mehmet Öcalan on İmralı Island on October 6, 2014, when his words "There must be resistance until the end" were reflected in the public.
On the same day, HDP invited the masses to democratic protests to embrace the Kobanê resistance and provide aid to Kobanê by Turkey, while on October 7, 2014, the KCK Co-Presidency also called for demonstrations for Kobanê. On the other hand, after many people lost their lives as a result of the widespread use of state violence in the ongoing protests, calls for common sense were made by many democratic non-governmental organizations, especially HDP.
The following two posts were made by HDP Headquarters on October 6, at 19.20 pm and 21.53 pm: “Urgent call to our people! Urgent call to our people from HDP Central Executive(MYK) Board, which is currently in meeting! The situation in Kobanê is extremely critical. We call on our people to take to the streets and support those who have come out to protest the ISIS attacks and the AKP government's embargo on Kobanê." And “We call on all our people, from ages 7 to 70, to take to the streets, hold space and take action against the massacre attempt in Kobanê. All international institutions, democratic masses, labor and professional, women's and youth organizations must take action against the brutality in Kobanê. From now on, everywhere is Kobanê. We invite you to indefinite resistance until the siege and brutal aggression in Kobanê ends.”
In addition to the actions that started on the border line before October 6, thousands of calls were made for Turkey to be sensitive about Kobane and take a stand against ISIS, with protests in many cities of Turkey and the world. On October 1, Selma Irmak and Selahattin Demirtaş met with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Yalçın Akdoğan. During the meeting, Davutoğlu said that they were ready to provide all kinds of support to Kobanê and that they would invite PYD Co-Chair Salih Müslim to Ankara and establish a dialogue.
Sırrı Süreyya Önder, then HDP Deputy, went to Pirsus on the same day to facilitate this transition and prevent any negativities. However, even though a few days have passed, there has been no development regarding the issue that Davutoğlu gave instructions. In the minutes when the statement made by HDP, which was the main point of the case, was made on October 6, Demirtaş, in his 12-minute phone conversation with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, reminded Davutoğlu's promises a few days ago. However, he did not receive any response from Davutoğlu.
As the protests spread, efforts began to be carried out to end the protests and prevent possible provocations in the crisis coordination centers established, one at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the other at the HDP Headquarters. While the Minister of Internal Affairs of the period, Efkan Ala, held meetings with HDP's İdris Baluken and Sırrı Süreyya Önder in the ministry building, Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ directly contacted the provincial and district organizations and took initiatives to prevent the protests. However, as the protests intensified, Efkan Ala's statement to the HDP delegation, "There are security forces that we cannot control," was etched in memory as a statement that shed light on what happened on October 6-8.
Efkan Ala also suggested that an official on behalf of the state go to Imrali and bring a message from PKK Leader Abdulllah Öcalan, and the message was delivered on the evening of October 8. The protests ended with a message announced to the public in Amed the next day.
Even though the protests were ended, the government, which lost its qualification to be the sole government in the June 7, 2015 elections, distorted the events to achieve its political goals after the elections and turned October 6-8 into a "conspiracy case" against HDP members. During the Kobanê protests between 7 and 12 October, 54 people, many of whom were HDP members, lost their lives as a result of the violence of state officials and paramilitary groups.
The investigation opened by Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office Parliamentary Crimes Investigation Bureau against Central Executive Board members who were Deputies at the time, and the investigation opened by the Crimes Against Constitutional Order Investigation Bureau against MYK members who were not Deputies were conducted together. The lawsuit process, which started like this, continued with the submission of the summary prepared on March 21, 2016 to the Parliament, requesting the removal of the immunity of Yüksekdağ, Demirtaş and other Deputies. While immunities were abolished with the constitutional amendment on May 20, 2016, the summaries of the Co-chairs and deputies were also combined. On November 4, 2016, 12 HDP Deputies were detained. Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ and Deputies İdris Baluken, Leyla Birlik, Selma Irmak, Nursel Aydoğan, Gülser Yıldırım, Ferhat Encü and Abdullah Zeydan were arrested.
It was revealed that Ahmet Altun, the hearing prosecutor of the Ankara 19th Criminal Court, where Selahattin Demirtaş, who was captured in a political coup, was tried, was also the prosecutor of the Kobanê investigation. Continuing his evidence investigation, prosecutor Altun's first goal was to "enrich" his file, which he could not concretize, through secret and open confessional witnesses. Altun requested the information and statement samples of the confessing witnesses with a memorandum he wrote to Ankara TEM Branch on 26-27 October 2018. On December 27, 2018, he requested the prosecutor's offices in 81 provinces to identify and provide information about the people involved in the events of October 6-8 and "those who benefited from effective remorse".
Prosecutor Altun's second goal was to expand the scope of the file. On July 19, 2018, Altun sent a list of 90 people to the police headquarters and requested an investigation. In addition to many politicians, the following names were on the list: Hatip Dicle, Selma Irmak, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Ayla Akat Ata, Demir Çelik, Aysel Tuğluk, Gültan Kışanak, Ahmet Türk, Sebahat Tuncel, Emine Ayna, Kamuran Yüksek and Ertuğrul Kürkçü, who are not members of HDP MYK and are not included as suspects during the investigation phase.
The lawyers of the case, who will make evaluations on the issue later during the prosecution phase, emphasized about the relevant instruction: "Although there is no new information or document, prosecutor Altun's initiation of an investigation based on a list that is unclear where and how it was prepared and his efforts to search for evidence show that the investigation has a political goal."
The third step of Altun, who had difficulty in producing evidence, was to restrict the authority of the lawyers of the suspected politicians to examine the file and take samples. The restriction decision made on the file on January 2, 2019 was evaluated as preventing the parties' lawyers from revealing illegal transactions and usurping their right to defense. The confidentiality decision continued until January 7, 2021, when the indictment was accepted by the court.
Another noteworthy issue was that Altun was appointed as Izmir Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor with the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) decree published on July 25, 2018, a week after the list of 90 people was prepared. However, Altun continued to serve as the prosecutor of the relevant investigation. On April 31, 2019, he was appointed to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. Altun continued to take action in the Kobanê investigation between these two dates. Altun was later rewarded for his Kobanê investigation and appointed as Ankara Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor with the HSK Decree dated June 19, 2022.
On 20 November 2018, two years after the politicians were arrested, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) determined that Demirtaş was detained for political reasons in Ankara 19th High Criminal Court and ordered his immediate release. One day after the ECHR decision, Erdoğan's statement, "We will make our counter manoeuvre and finish the job," remains in memory. While the decision was transferred to the ECHR Grand Chamber upon objections, a release decision was made in the main case in which Demirtaş was arrested, 16 days before the hearing in Strasbourg on 18 September 2019. Thus, at the hearing in the ECHR Grand Chamber, the government put forward the argument that "he is not a prisoner, but a convicted person of another crime." On September 20, 2019, when their release was expected, Yüksekdağ and Demirtaş were arrested for the second time by the decision of the Ankara 1st Criminal Judgeship of Peace. With Erdoğan's "counter manoeuvre", the co-chairs were arrested this time within the scope of the investigation carried out against "members of the Executive Board who are not members of parliament".
In the 5-page document titled "Information Note" of Ankara TEM (Counter Terrorism) Branch dated 2018, forgotten in folder number 234 in the file; According to the statement of the case lawyers, "How the investigation should be conducted, who can be included in the file, for which crimes they can be punished, how the immunity procedure will be operated, this investigation can be used as the basis for the closure of HDP." The trial process was also carried out with the indictment prepared within the framework of the document that served as the basis for the investigation. 
Yüksel Kocaman, who served as the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor when Demirtaş's first file was created and the procedures regarding the Kobanê file were carried out, was appointed as a member of the Supreme Court in November 2020. Kocaman's relations with Süleyman Soylu and Ankara Police Chief Servet Yılmaz, whose news about his relations with the criminal organization leader Ayhan Bora Kaplan, who is currently in prison, were reflected in the press in September 2023, revealed the source of the 5-page security note forgotten in the file. The largest "political genocide" operation in the history of the Republic was carried out in the triangle of judiciary, law enforcement and bureaucracy.
Thousands of pages of the 3 thousand 530-page indictment regarding these events, which turned into a lawsuit years later, consisted of events and news bulletins, province by province, in those days. The basis of the accusations in the indictment was the message shared by the HDP Central Executive Board on Twitter regarding the attacks on Kobanê on October 6, 2014. On the other hand, on February 19, 2015, Ankara Provincial Police Department sent a letter consisting of a 14-page detailed information note and its annexes to the investigation files carried out against Central Executive Board members who were not members of parliament at the time. A 33-page report prepared in a similar manner by TEM Department B Branch Directorate, again, the 71-page report of the Security Department of the General Directorate of Security, a 4-page printout consisting of the 3-page minutes dated February 5, 2015, kept by Ankara TEM Branch Directorate, and Fırat News Agency (ANF) news was presented. This investigation report prepared by the police in 2015 and the statements of secret witnesses "ULAŞ", "MAHİR" and open witness confessor Kerem Gökalp, reached by specially appointed prosecutor Ahmet Altun, formed the basis of the indictment. 
A large part of the indictment consists of published news, details of the events that took place in various cities between 6-8 October, and the statements of the complainants. On the other hand, news containing statements made on various dates by politicians against whom an indictment was prepared were also included in the case. The speeches made by Deputies in the Parliament within the scope of immunity from the rostrum are also among the evidence used as a basis for the accusations.
Throughout the trial process, the government and its partners made statements that directly intervened in the case. Erdogan targeted HDP by creating a perception only through Yasin Börü, who lost his life during the protests. Just 4 days after the acceptance of the indictment, MHP Chair Devlet Bahçeli called on the Supreme Court to close down HDP. One day before the first hearing on April 26, 2021, Minister of Internal Affairs Süleyman Soylu made a post targeting HDP on his virtual media account. On the day of the hearing, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun made a statement with similar content.
Open and secret witness statements, which form the main basis of the indictment, also reveal the contradictions in the indictment. All of the witness statements in the case filed more than 6 years after the events of October 6-8 were received in 2019. Kerem Gökalp is one of the witnesses, two of whom are secret and two of whom are open. What developed around Kerem Gökalp's testimony shows how the case was prepared with a conspiracy. Gökalp was arrested after surrendering to Turkey in 2019. However, in his statement during his arrest, there is not a single statement regarding 6-8 October. While it was claimed that he applied with a petition to testify within the scope of the Kobanê investigation on December 24, 2019, some time after his arrest, he was taken from prison to the police station with an administrative detention order a day later. However, the petition in question was not included in the case file.
On December 4, 2019, secret witness Mahir's statement was taken by Ahmet Altun at Ankara TEM. This 5-page statement consists of almost exactly the same statements as witness Gökalp's 6-page statement, including writing errors. It has been revealed many times that witness statements taken on different dates were the same, down to writing errors. It turned out that the statements of secret witness Ulaş, taken on March 4, 2020, and those of witness Sami Baran, taken on December 12, 2019, were the same, sentence by sentence. Likewise, it turned out that the conversations of secret witnesses Hermes and Atlas were verbatim copy-paste methods. On the other hand, it was seen that the statement of Gül Tanrıverdi, whose statement was taken as a witness, in the indictment did not match the statement she gave at Ağrı TEM on 26 November 2019, 5 years after the Kobanê protests. It was revealed that in the statement of secret witness Mahir taken on December 4, 2019, a report was kept stating that he stated the same statement made by Demirtaş in 2014, including writing errors. Lawyers said that the statement in question was prepared by the TEM Branch Directorate and the witness signed it.
There are also noteworthy points in the statements of secret witness Ulaş and witness Muhammed Zengin, who will be added to the file later. Ulaş's 29-page statement, 328-page photo identification, and witness Zengin's 18-page statement, consisting of 50 photo identifications, were taken by the same prosecutor on the same day on March 4, 2020, an allegation that does not comply with the reality of time and place.
The next stage in the file was the arrest of HDP politicians on September 24, 2020. The politicians arrested are as follows: Nazmi Gür, Ayla Akat Ata, Emine Ayna Emine Beyza Üstün, Bircan Yorulmaz, Bülent Parmaksız, Can Memiş, Dilek Yağlı, Gülfer Akkaya, Günay Kubilay, Zeki Çelik, Ali Ürküt, Altan Tan, Pervin Oduncu, Alp Altınörs, Berfin Özgü Köse, Cihan Erdal, Ayhan Bilgen and İsmail Şengül.
On the other hand, Aysel Tuğluk, Gültan Kışanak and Sebahat Tuncel, who were later included in the file, were also arrested within the scope of this file in October 2020, although they were imprisoned in other files.
The 3 thousand 530-page indictment was completed and submitted to the court on December 30, 2020, following the "release" decision made by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş on December 22, 2020. The court accepted the indictment within a week, on January 7, 2021. It was also remarkable how such a large file was examined by the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court in a week. In addition to the Presidency, the Presidency of Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and even the Meat and Milk Institution, state institutions and organizations such as HUDA PAR, which has always been the apparatus of the government, requested intervention in the file. The fact that even the Ministry of Justice, which includes the prosecutor who prepared the investigation file and the 3 high criminal judges who will carry out the trial, plays the victim role began to provide clues about judicial independence and fair trial during the case process. 
The Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) decided to appoint a second panel to the Ankara 22nd High Criminal Court, which accepted the indictment on March 26, 2021, and that the current panel will only hear the Kobanê Case and related cases that may follow. The delegation chaired by Bahtiyar Çolak looked only at the Kobanê Case after this date. The career journey of Çolak, who was the head of the delegation during the hearings that started on April 26, extending to the 'Atadedeler Gang' also attracted attention.
The facts came to light when 24 people who were alleged to have committed "aggravated fraud" were detained in the Ankara-based Atadedeler Gang investigation. According to the allegations, the gang leader and members, who said "we are carrying out the commercial intelligence branch of the deep state", defrauded millions of liras. As the investigation deepened, it was determined that members of the judiciary also had relations with the gang, and 1 judge and two public prosecutors, one of whom was a former public prosecutor, were also found to be in the gang.
While the investigation was continuing, Bahtiyar Çolak was dismissed and one of the members, Yıldıray Kaya, became the president of the court. Çolak was taken into custody on March 22, 2022, on the charge of "membership in a terrorist organization" and was released under house arrest. It turned out that Çolak was the number two of the 'Atadedeler Gang'. His code name is "Büyükdede".
Yıldıray Kaya, who was appointed as the president of the court after Çolak, decided to continue the hearings without interruption.
The defense lawyers' requests to suspend the hearing for at least 2 months and to rearrange the 2-week hearing period were not accepted. Thereupon, the lawyers filed a criminal complaint with the HSK on November 11, 2021, against the court president and members for "the elimination of the opportunity to carry out legal activities by the court president and committee, and the violation of the rights of defense and fair trial." Lawyers demanded an investigation into the court panel that abused its duties.
Apart from the open and secret witnesses that form the basis of the indictment, the court also heard as witnesses the people who took part in the October 6-8 protests, about whom an investigation was launched, or who had previously testified at the police station on different dates. However, most of the witnesses reached by the court demanded the release of HDP politicians and said that they had nothing to do with the case. Witnesses said that they did not receive calls from politicians, that there was no violence during the protests, that it was a right to protest against ISIS, and that they made statements in places indicated by the governorships. In the 11th hearing of the case, N.K. was heard in court as a witness after the statement he gave when he went to Ankara TEM Branch Office to report his son missing was added to the case. N.K. stated that he had nothing to do with the case and asked, "Why was I brought as a witness?"
At the hearing held in July 2022, secret witness Hermes said, "I confused her with someone else" after the cameras showed Kubilay, even though Hermes gave a comprehensive statement about HDP's previous Spokesperson Günay Kubilay. Hermes could not identify Pervin Oduncu and Mesut Bağcık, whom Hermes accused.
In the indictment prepared for the case, 2 thousand 676 names were included as victims-petitors. So far, the court has received nearly 2 thousand petitor-victim statements through the instruction courts. Statements were taken confidentially from lawyers by writing to the instruction courts. While there was no information about what was asked in the petitors' statements and whether the people who testified knew who the petitors were complaining about, the court added the statements taken as petitors in its interim decisions to the file by saying "they were taken and read". It is not clear on what basis the statement was made, and some people and institutions who testified upon court instructions filed a complaint, even though they stated that there was no harm. From April 2021, when the case started, to December 28, 2021, the statements taken from 868 institutions and individuals by the instruction courts as victims and petitors were recorded in the minutes. Only 225 of the people whose statements were taken stated that they filed a complaint.
The statements taken through letters rogatory and face to face as petitors and victims were used as a justification for the continued detention of politicians. While the court continues its search for new evidence in the file, the secret witness statement named "ABC123" was added to the file in the 9th hearing. While the secret witness statements were taken by the presiding judge and two members on the day the hearing was not held, the secret witness statements were used as the reason for continued detention. In its justification for Demirtaş's continued detention, the delegation even commented, "There is a danger that he may take measures that would harm the good administration of justice after his release." In an effort to save the collapsed case, the court claimed that the fact that Ölbeci is "single" indicated that she is a "member of the terrorist organization", in line with the witness statement in the justification for the continued detention of the arrested politician Zeynep Ölbeci. It turned out that the open witness named "ABC123" was Merdan Rüştü Ovalıoğlu. 
With the inclusion of Merdan Rüştü Ovalıoğlu (ABC123) in the file, the contradictions between the witnesses began to become more evident. ABC123, who said that ABC123 did not know most of the 108 people against whom an indictment was filed within the scope of the case, also made statements that would discredit previous witnesses. Secret witness Mahir stated that HDP was given instructions at the Central Executive Board meeting; Witness Kerem Gökalp claimed that instructions were given through Kamuran Yüksek. “ABC123” claimed that instructions were sent to the HDP Diyarbakır Provincial Organization building with a small memory card.
In the Kobanê Case, where there was no fair trial, human rights and health were also disregarded. Politicians, who had to come to the courtroom every day due to uninterrupted hearing periods, experienced many health problems. The biggest example of this was that Aysel Tuğluk, one of the people tried in the case, was not released despite the medical reports stating that she "cannot stay in prison". At the hearing held in August 2022, the court asked Tuğluk questions about the accusations in the indictment and tried to interrogate her, despite her difficulty in making a defense. After great public reaction and calls from human rights defenders, Tuğluk was released on October 27, 2022. 
In a process where illegalities in the trial continued to increase, the prosecution announced its opinion on the merits on April 14, 2023. As the reading of the opinion began in the 49th hearing, the imprisoned politicians left the courtroom chanting slogans such as "Jin Jiyan Azadî" (Women Life and Freedom), "Shoulder to shoulder against fascism" and "We will win by resisting". Lawyer Nuray Özdoğan reacted by saying, "Here, read the election declaration of the government." After the lawyers left the courtroom, the presiding judge's statement in the report, "It was seen that some of the defendants' defense lawyers had slipped out of the hearing," drew a reaction.
In the opinion, aggravated life imprisonment was requested for each of the political prisoners for the crime of "disrupting the unity of the state and the integrity of the country". The politicians in question are as follows; Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ Şenoğlu, Ahmet Türk, Bircan Yorulmaz, Ali Ürküt, Alp Altınörs, Altan Tan, Ayhan Bilgen, Ayla Akat Ata, Aysel Tuğluk, Ayşe Yağcı, Bircan Yorulmaz, Bülent Barmaksız, Cihan Erdal, Nazmi Gür, Dilek Yağlı, Emine Ayna, Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Gülser Yıldırım, Gültan Kışanak, Günay Kubilay, İsmail Şengül, Zeki Çelik, Pervin Oduncu, Sebahat Tuncel, Zeynep Karaman, İbrahim Binici, Can Memiş, Gülfer Akkaya, Berfin Özgü Köse, Emine Beyza Üstün, Meryem Adıbelli , Sibel Akdeniz, Mesut Bağcık, Nezir Çakan and Aynur Aşan.
In addition, it was requested that the defendants be sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment for 6 more times each for the crime of "qualified murder" for the murder of 6 people. The names of the defendants are as follows: Demirtaş, Yüksekdağ, Türk, Yorulmaz, Ürküt, Altınörs, Tan, Bilgen, Ata, Tuğluk, Yağcı, Yorulmaz, Barmaksız, Erdal, Gür, Yağlı, Ayna, Önder, Yıldırım, Kışanak, Kubilay, Şengül, Çelik, Oduncu, Tuncel and Karaman.
It was requested that Nezir Çakan and Sibel Akdeniz be sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment 4 times each, and Meryem Adıbelli to be sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment 1 more time for the same crime. In addition, a prison sentence of different rates was requested for the politicians in question for the crimes of "damage to property", "restriction of freedom", "attempted murder", "deliberate injury and theft". 
The court panel rejected the requests for reasonable time for the imprisoned politicians, who have limited resources, to examine the opinion, which is over 5 thousand pages, and to make a counter-defense, and gave 3 and a half months for the defense.
While the detained politicians in the Kobanê Case, which consists of nearly a thousand folders, had the opportunity to review the file for a short time during working hours on weekdays, the opinion was not physically delivered to the politicians. In addition to the uninterrupted hearing that has been going on since the beginning of the trial and the difficulties experienced by politicians in accessing the file, it took months for lawyers to obtain favorable evidence. The hearing periods, which continued uninterrupted even during judicial recess, caused difficulties for both lawyers and politicians in making a qualified defense. In addition to all this, the limitation of the politicians' defense to one day was recorded as another issue that prevented them from responding to all the accusations against them.
Although the court noted that the verdict will be announced at the hearing on May 16, which is expected to be the most critical stage of the 3-year-long process, it is unclear whether the government has made a decision on Kurdish policy yet. Postponement of the decision on the merits may be on the agenda at the hearing on May 16, where the last words will be taken.
MA / Fırat Can Arslan