Top court finds no rights violation in arrest of former HDP co-chair in Kobani trial

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has found no rights violation in the arrest of Figen Yüksekdağ, a former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP),  in connection with a trial concerning deadly protests in southeastern Turkey in 2014, according to Turkish media.

Yüksekdağ is among 108 Kurdish politicians, 28 of whom are currently in jail, along with former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, who are standing trial in the Kobani case.

The top court rejected Yüksekdağ’s petition, stating that it was “devoid of any grounds” and that she had not been deprived of the right to liberty and security.

Yüksekdağ had been already in jail since November 2016 on terrorism-related charges when a court in November 2019 issued a second warrant for her arrest as part of the Kobani trial.

The case against current and former members of the HDP stems from one of the darker episodes of the decade-long Syrian war.

Thirty-seven people died in violent demonstrations against the Turkish army’s inaction in the face of an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) offensive against the largely Kurdish northern Syrian town of Kobani in 2014.

Demirtaş had called for street protests in support of Kurdish fighters in Kobani while accusing Ankara of failing to provide adequate help to the town and of supporting ISIL.

The HDP accuses the government of provoking the deaths.

In the 3,500-page indictment, drafted more than six years after the protests and accepted by the court in January 2021, the defendants face various charges related to the protests that include 37 counts of homicide and disrupting the unity and territorial integrity of the state.

Yüksekdağ was first arrested along with a number of other Kurdish politicians in November 2016, in a sweeping crackdown on the HDP. Along with Demirtaş, they are facing terrorism charges in several trials, which many say are politically motivated.

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