On the Demirtaş and Önder verdict

A court has ruled in the case of our former Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş as well as our 26thterm Member of Parliament Sırrı Süreyya Önder that brought charges related to the role they played in the peace and solution process. Demirtaş was sentenced to four years and eight months imprisonment, while Önder was sentenced to three years and six months.

The case itself, as well as the verdict released today, is not rooted in law, but is a political verdict. This decision is a clear sign of the government’s politics, which are anti-peace and insist on war.

The AKP-MHP coalition currently seeks an end-to-conflict or a ceasefire in the war in Syria in areas where gangs are concentrated, however they do not consider the Kurdish people or society in Turkey as deserving of peace.

What has been punished here is the hope, embodied by Demirtaş and Önder, that Turkey’s peoples have for peace and reconciliation. With this decision, the ruling party aims to dismantle and eradicate society’s pursuit of and hope for peace. At the same time, the ruling party is violating the “Solution and Negotiation Framework Law” that was passed by Parliament and that pledged guarantees to actors in the resolution process. In this way, the AKP and its administrators have proven yet again that they are not to be trusted on any account.

Weren’t steps taken five years ago in the presence of the entire population of Turkey in order to peacefully resolve the Kurdish question? Weren’t seeds of peace planted across this country so that mothers would no longer have to mourn their children? Weren’t Committees of Wise People established, and didn’t they carry out activities in all seven of Turkey’s provinces? Weren’t the visits to İmralı Island, to Abdullah Öcalan and to Kandil Mountain, made with the knowledge of the state and the security apparatus? Didn’t all of these processes take place before society and with society’s consent?

Doesn’t the fact that our colleagues and MPs, who fulfilled their responsibilities throughout all these processes, have now been imprisoned, undermine once again this country’s aspiration for peace? Peace is more important than power, elections, or political maneuvers that seek to appease the needs of a certain period. For us, peace is an issue that cannot be sacrificed for the sake of any political party’s political survival. Sooner or later, this peace, which this society needs as vitally as bread or water, will come to pass, and those who have not fulfilled their responsibilities to this society during this process will face the contempt and condemnation of history and society.

The verdict is against the law and against the universal principles of law. It is also non-ethical to punish the political effort and work that has been exerted to prevent the loss of human lives. With this verdict once again, it is confirmed that the judiciary in Turkey is partial and dependent on the government. The court delegation made it clear that they were not fair or impartial with their attitudes during the proceedings and defense process.

The court rejected an expertise request, and there are no conversation transcripts in the file, but only some notes taken by some police officers. The practices of this panel of judges has nothing to do with international democratic conventions ratified by Turkey, Article 90 of the Constitution, European Convention of Human Rights or the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

History will remember with shame those who passed this verdict and those who stand politically behind it. The Middle East and Turkey has been a political cemetery of ruling powers that have sought war, and those who have strived today to produce this decision will take their deserved place there.

This verdict will be condemned in the conscience of the peoples of Turkey who want peace, equality and democracy. This verdict has further stimulated our peaceful political will. Our struggle for peace and democracy will continue in a more determined manner.

Demirtaş and Önder did not bow down in the court for a single moment, they did not give up on their opinions, and they did not abstain from stating their views. Those who think that they can change Demirtaş and Önder’s dignified and determined position by such punishments are gravely mistaken. In the face of the liquidation practices against the HDP, none of our members, our party executives or our MPs have submitted, and there can be no doubt it will continue like that.

We will not take a single step back from defending the solution and negotiation process in İmralı and raising the hope for peace. Demirtaş and Önder’s desire for peace, which was punished today, is our desire as well. We will continue in this manner in the most determined way.

We urge the peoples of Turkey to back this will, democratic politics and the struggle for peace and democracy. Turkey will eventually attain democracy. Without a doubt, we will win.

Saruhan Oluç
HDP Spokesperson and MP for Istanbul 
September 7, 2018