As you know, I haven’t been among you for a considerable time. I am writing this letter to briefly summarize what I (and we) have experienced throughout this period.
On September 25th, 2020, we were taken into custody, which was accompanied by a lynch campaign in the media, and on October 2nd, we were jailed. I have been in jail since then, that is, for a year and two months. The indictment against me relates to being party to the tweets shared by the Central Steering Committee of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on October 6, 2014 (7 years ago!), calling for solidarity with the people of Kobanê fighting against ISIS terrorism and genocide. This democratic call is being criminalized and counted as the cause of any violence that took place on the following days, October 7th, 8th, or 9th. Therefore, all the members of the HDP Central Steering Committee from that period are tried with the heaviest penalties in Turkish Criminal Law. The link between the call and the events is not substantiated by any concrete evidence.
After our pre-detention, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decision “Selahattin Demirtaş (no. 2)” was announced. The ECHR stated that the tweets of the HDP on October 6, 2014:
- “Were a call for solidarity with the people of Kobanê facing a military attack by the armed terrorist organization ISIS”
- “The call at stake could not be interpreted as a call for violence, and hence remains within the sphere of political statements”
- “The violent events on October 6-8, although worrying, cannot be grasped as the outcome of the tweets in question”
- And hence, that the Tweets “cannot be taken as justification for the detainment of the applicant.” (Paragraph 327)
In short, the ECHR Grand Chamber, which is the highest judicial authority according to paragraph 90 of the constitution, has established that there is no criminal element of the tweets of the HDP’s Central Steering Committee on October 6, 2014. Even so, we were not discharged although this verdict was translated by the Ministry of Justice and included in our case file on January 4, 2021. The court decided to keep us detained despite this clear verdict of the ECHR.
All these heavy accusations encapsulated in three tweets did not daunt our steadfastness. We have defended our rightfulness and legitimacy during the trials. For instance, we made it clear that this call of the HDP’s Central Steering Committee is grounded on Resolution 2170 adopted by the UN Security Council on August 15, 2014, calling all nations to take action against possible genocides by ISIS. Similarly, we placed on record that the Resolution 2170 extended to Turkish law through the memorandum adopted by Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) on October 2, 2014, and therefore defined “taking action” against possible crimes against humanity by ISIS in Kobanê for all political parties in Turkey. We made clear that in the context of crimes against humanity, not setting things in motion, but merely watching or preventing action is a crime. We explained ISIS’s crimes against humanity in Mosul, Tal Afar, Sinjar; how they forced women into sexual slavery and traded them in markets. We told them that a call for preventing similar things happening in Kobanê cannot be classified as a “crime”.
In fact we succeeded in opening the door to freedom by a few centimetres. During the June hearing, we sent 8 of our friends to freedom. But since September, the court experienced a new political intervention. The President of the Court, previously unable to join the hearing on health grounds, was then dismissed from duty by HSK decree. Another member was appointed to the post and the President of the Court was changed. Simultaneously, MHP General Secretary Devlet Bahçeli publicly gave political instructions to the court by saying, “as for those 108 people, a decision forbidding them to see the light of day should be taken as soon as possible”. By “coincidence”, in its new composition, the 22nd High Criminal Court’s “special” board (which only concerns itself with the “Kobanê” file, this is their only job) suddenly tried to artificially accelerate the judicial process. They determined a hearing period as “a 15 day trial period, one week decessment”. Despite all the objections by us and our lawyers, they were stubborn about this period. Thus, with a rapid court process, they tried to render a judgement against us as quickly as possible.
As a socialist intellectual worker, as a writer, a translator, a politician, and most important of all, as a human being, I consider it a moral and conscientious stance to call for solidarity when a people next to us have fallen into the clutches of ISIS barbarians. But here I am unjustly and unlawfully deprived of my freedom for 1 year and 2 months on the grounds of making a call against ISIS terrorism and the ISIS genocide.
Neither being a member of the Central Steering Committee of a legal party nor making a call against ISIS genocide can be counted as a “crime”. Moreover, Article 34 of the Constitution lays out the right to ”organise unarmed peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission. What we have experienced, like what another Steering Committee member, Cihan Erdal expressed in the application to the UN Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention with regard to this case, is “arbitrary detention” and “in violation of Articles 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. (Cihan Erdal’s testimony #38/2021 regarding Turkey, September 16th 2021)
In this context, my application to the Constitutional Court regarding an violation of individual rights has been pending for more than a year. This application, all legal procedures of which have been completed, remains at the decision stage. The Constitutional Court, which should follow the decisions and case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in terms of legal procedure, is watching this unjust detention go on and on even though there is a clear and unambiguous ECHR decision on the table. In fact, that the Constitutional Court has been waiting without handing down a decision for more than a year while there is a violation of the most basic rights such as the ”right to freedom“ also calls into question whether there is an ”effective means to seek one’s rights”. Every single day we spend in this unjust detention constitutes a violation of both the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
So as not to make my letter too much longer, I would like to express how much I miss each of you as I finish here.
In the face of a political frenzy that intends to “forbid us to see the light of day”, your voices of solidarity and appeal continue to reach us behind the prison walls.
Solidarity keeps us going and “the kindness of the oppressed” always helps to keep my morale high.
I convey my most sincere greetings to each of you, and I wish to meet all of you in freedom as soon as possible.
With all my love,