Jailed HDP co-chair: Erdoğan, Davutoğlu must also be tried for talks with PYD

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Co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas (L) and Figen Yuksekdag deliver a press conference in Ankara on November 1, 2015, after the first results in the country's general election. Latest results say the HDP won slightly over 10 percent of the vote, just enough to scrape into parliament. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER / AFP PHOTO / -

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Figen Yüksekdağ said during a hearing on Wednesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu must also be tried along with her as they, as leaders of the then-government, hosted Saleh Muslim, head of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), in İstanbul in 2013.

Yüksekdağ, who was arrested on Nov. 4 of last year along with 10 other HDP deputies, including Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and terrorist propaganda, attended the hearing at the Urfa 5th High Criminal Court on Wednesday via video conferencing from Ankara’s Kandıra Prison, where she is currently being held.

Underlining that she was indicted for a speech she gave in Urfa’s Suruç district on July 20, 2015 and accused of making propaganda for the PYD, which Turkey’s government considers a terrorist organization, Yüksekdağ said Muslim was hosted by Turkish authorities and that the PYD’s People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia helped Turkey in relocating the tomb of Süleyman Şah, grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder Osman I, from a location in northern Syria, 35 kilometers from the Turkish border, to the village of Esme close to the Turkish border in February 2015 following threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Yüksekdağ said, “If I’m put on trial for this crime, then so should the prime minister of the time Davutoğlu, the undersecretaries and the president [Erdoğan].”

The Tomb of Süleyman Şah was in danger of [ISIL] attack. We as the HDP intervened. The PYD and the YPG played a role in bringing the tomb of Süleyman Şah to Esme. We called this the ‘Esme Spirit’ at the time. At that time they didn’t call the PYD terrorists. There have been negotiations between the PYD and the [Turkish] government. They call the leader of the political power a terrorist today, Salih Muslim was hosted in İstanbul. (..) Will the prosecutor who prepared this indictment against me prepare the same for people who spoke [to PYD officials] a hundred times more than this ‘crime’ [of mine]?” she added.

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