In Turkey / Türkiye

Report on ANF News, Dec 20, 2016

Former Turkish PM Davutoglu bears responsibility for the murder of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov, Demirtas tells court.

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of Peoples Democratic Party

Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of Peoples Democratic Party

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas told a court hearing yesterday that former Turkey Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu must be put on trial for the destruction of Kurdish cities and because the police officer who murdered the Russian ambassador had come into the force during Davutoglu’s tenure.

Demirtas is on trial for a speech he made during a public meeting in February 2016. The second hearing in the trial was held yesterday. HDP Parliamentarian Erol Dora for Mardin district, lawyers and many other civilians participated in the hearing.

Demirtas joined the hearing from Edirne F Type Maximum Security Prison via conference call. He said the trial could not deliver justice because he and other HDP MPs had already been declared guilty through the propaganda of pro-government media. The HDP co-leader reiterated that they could not testify under these circumstances, not because they were scared but because they reject a judiciary in the service of the government.

Davutoglu responsible

During his defence, Demirtas rejected the accusation of ‘terrorist propaganda’ made against him. He said:

The accusations directed at me in the indictment are all related to remarks critical of the government. These remarks constitute political criticism. The Parliament is the supervisor of the executive authority. I criticised very critical political mistakes made by Ahmet Davutoglu. Those were the days when discussions in the resolution process were centred around putting an end to the PKK’s attacks in Turkey.

However the military operations in Cizre, Sirnak, Nusaybin, Sur as well as some other cities and towns, which caused the death of civilians and erasure of our cities from the map were ordered by Davutoglu. Furthermore most of the top police chiefs that executed these political decisions are those that are now jailed for the coup attempt.

The press statement and speech I made that day are sincere criticism towards the mistakes made back then. It is rather the Davutoglu-led government and then-on duty officials that must be put on trial.”

Murder of Russian ambassador

The jailed politician also made comments on recent developments, including the killing of the Russian Ambassador to Ankara by a police officer.

“The officer who killed the Russian Ambassador was employed during Davutoglu’s tenure in office. He was also the one who gave the order for the downing of the Russian jet. Davutoglu brought the proposal -which is contrary to the Turkish constitution- for the lifting of our immunity to Parliament. The biggest problems in Turkey’s history were created during Davutoglu’s time in office.”

Demirtas ended his defence by calling for unity around democracy and human rights. He said the Davutoglu government needs to be put on trial.

The Turkish government has been accused of reinforcing the country’s police force and army with Islamist cadres loyal to President Erdogan. Thousands of security and military personnel have been purged since the fall-out in 2013 between the Fethullah Gulen-led Hizmet Movement and Erdogan’s AKP.

Related readings:
Around 2,500 HDP members jailed since July 2015, 500 still in custody, ANF News, Dec 21, 2016

Journalist at Turkey’s Hürriyet daily replaced after remarks questioning blame on Gulen movement for Russian ambassador’s killing, by Turkish Minute, Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016

Journalists in Turkey’s state of emergency, report #34, by Platform for Independent Journalism, Dec 16, 2016

On Dec. 15, Hüsnü Mahalli, a columnist with the Yurt newspaper was arrested on charges of “insulting the president” and “insulting public officials serving on a board on the basis of their duty.” Mahalli’s arrest brings the number of journalists or press workers in Turkish prisons to 148…

Statement on the arrest of ANF News Director in Belgium, published on ANF News, Dec 21, 2016

ANF News Director Maxime Demiralp was arrested in Belgium on Turkey’s request. We urge the Belgian authorities to release him immediately.

Firat News Agency (ANF) News Director Maxime Demiralp was detained by Belgian police on December 15 on the grounds of an INTERPOL notice issued by Turkey. He was referred to court one day later, and formally arrested.

The terror and pressure policy pursued by the Turkish state against Kurdish politicians has now extended to the point of targeting Kurdish journalists through an INTERPOL notice. The arrest of our News Director Maxime Demiralp by Belgium is a consequence of this policy.

According to information we have received, Turkey’s INTERPOL notice for Demiralp is totally related to the reports published by our agency. The arrest of a journalist in a European country for his reports is a shame in terms of democracy and freedoms. With this practice, Belgium serves as the law enforcer of the Turkish state’s censorship and pressure against press. The arrest of Demiralp in the current situation means an extension of Turkey’s pressures against press up to Europe.

The trial of appeal against Demiralp’s arrest will be held on Friday. We urge the Belgian authorities and EU institutions to ensure Demiralp’s immediate release.

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