In 2014, Kobane also was experiencing ISIS barbarism, just as were many places in Syria and Iraq. There were several protests staged around the world against ISIS’ blood-curdling massacres. As of August 2014, many effective demonstrations were taking place in Turkey as well, and the world’s attention was increasingly focused on Kobane. Voices demanding that the international coalition intervene against ISIS were then heard all around the world. During the peace process that started in 2013 in Turkey, a stage was reached that the PKK would completely lay down their arms and a democratic solution would be reached.
The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), of which I was the co-chair at the time, was one of the political actors in the peace process. The most sensitive part of the process was ensuring that all parties and the public trusted one another, and that transparency was provided as much as possible. There are many discussions that can be carried out about the resolution process, but something that should be noted is that all parties to the talks, as well as the public, sustained their good will and supported the process.
What was the situation like leading up to October 6, 2014?
After this short reminder, I want to say a couple of things about the so-called expanded political operations that were linked to Kobane. For six years, there was only one piece of evidence for the constant political and judicial operations, including police operations, and media attacks. This evidence was a post shared by the HDP Twitter account. Let me explain, once more, why this statement was shared.
Unfortunately, ISIS attacks were intensifying despite several weeks of protests. While our Central Executive Committee (MYK) was meeting, news came that ISIS was about to take over the Mürşitpınar Border Gate in Suruç, in the south of Turkey. This gate was the only and the last entry point for the aid that was sent, and that would be sent, from Turkey to Kobane. Just a few days before that, on October 1, then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated in a meeting we had with him that Turkey would do whatever needed to be done to help Kobane. This was of historic importance in terms of internal peace, good relations with other Kurds living in the region, and the success of the peace process. Up until that time, we at the HDP headquarters had not directed severe criticism at the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, with which we had a dialogue during the peace process. We had not protested the government.
We were constantly trying to solve issues through dialogue. As a matter of fact, following our meeting with Mr. Davutoğlu on October 1, 2014, I stated that the meeting was positive and thanked the government. However, in the five days that followed, the government did not take a single step to help Kobane, even though it had promised to do so. On the evening of October 6, 2014, we wanted to inform the public about the urgency and gravity of the situation in Kobane and increase awareness. We also criticized and protested the AKP for the first time. Our only concern when our Central Executive Committee posted these messages on Twitter was whether the dialogue groundwork for the peace process would be harmed. However, ultimately, if a massacre were to take place in Kobane, that would have harmed the peace process even more, it was decided. It was also decided that I have a conversation over the phone with Davutoğlu and convey the situation to him.
In the 12-minute phone conversation with Prime Minister Davutoğlu, I informed him about the developments and our stance. If he wishes to and if he remembers, he can reveal what he told us himself.
After HDP’s statement was posted at 9:50 p.m. on the evening of October 6, several demonstrations were held in Turkey and across the world. These demonstrations were continuations of the ones that had been held since August 2014, and they proved effective. However, not a single incident of violence, injury or death occurred. Nonetheless, there were no demonstrations held or any incidents that occurred the following morning. It was calm everywhere, but we were in a tense period of waiting. As the HDP, we were discussing whether it would be good if a mass meeting was held at Suruç, across the border from Kobane, and we were exploring the means for that.
If the HDP called for violence, why was this never mentioned?
Now, I want to draw your attention to this very important aspect: Not on October 6 or 7, nor on October 8 or 9, was there the slightest implication from anyone that the HDP’s statement contained a call to violence. So much so that President Erdoğan, while speaking at the İslahiye Refugee Camp in the southern province of Gaziantep on October 7, did not utter even one word regarding a call to violence by the HDP. He did not because such a call did not exist. If the HDP statement was of a kind that said, “Destroy everything, burn everything,” as is claimed or as is the subject matter of the accusations, then the president, in his speech the next day, should have said, “Do not be provoked. Do not listen to the call by the HDP. Do not destroy anything, stop the violence,” right? He should have. But he did not say anything like that because there was no violence, nor a single person who took HDP’s message as a call to violence.
Also, after HDP’s calls, there was no statement from the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament, the Interior Minister or the opposition parties saying that “the HDP is calling for violence, do not be provoked, do not listen to this call.” This is because there was no violence nor the slightest perception that HDP’s statement was a call to violence. If a political party makes a call to violence, then there would be a warning at the country’s official or civilian level. There was not, because there was no call for violence.
The violence started after Erdoğan’s words about Kobane’s fall
Why did so much violence, massacre and destruction occur despite this? I will again have to remind you of President Erdoğan’s speech dated October 7, 2014. What did he say then? He said, “Kobane is about to fall.” This is the sentence that triggered the provocation.
After this speech, people started demonstrating again in a couple of places. The reason was that the president of the country, instead of helping Kobane — you know, there was a peace process, there was supposed to be peace with the Kurds, as one would expect, mothers were not supposed to cry — but he was, in high spirits, almost, declaring that Kobane was about to fall soon. The first provocation happened immediately after this speech. In the Varto district in the eastern province of Muş, police fired on demonstrators, killing 25-year-old Hakan Buksur from the HDP. On the same day, 13 more people were killed by unknown persons or by people whose identities were hidden. Thus, the provocations started through the massacre of members of the HDP.
Do you think you are clever and the people are stupid?
So, in Varto, where HDP members were killed and there was not even the slightest research about who the killers were, including by the police forces on duty, were all the killers called to action by the HDP, where they would go on to kill other HDP members? Are you kidding us? Almost all of the shops that were torched belonged to HDP members. Do you think HDP members did this after reading HDP tweets? Do you think you are very clever and the people are stupid? Do you think people don’t know about the members of Hizbi Kontra and the ISIS supporters who were given arms and sent to the streets? Do you think this will all be kept a secret for eternity?
Do you think we will forget how your followers provoked people with ISIS fanaticism and propaganda? Do you assume nobody saw the images showing how close of a relationship had developed between ISIS members and the security personnel at the border of Kobane? Or, do you think we will forget about the security personnel who added fuel to the flames, magnifying the violence and provocations?
Do you think you will be free of responsibility?
Do you think that, with the four intelligence agencies and dozens of security forces under the command of the government, you will be relieved of responsibility if you place the blame for all the atrocities that were not able to be caught or stopped in advance on the HDP, an opposition party?
Do you think we will forget the columnists Hilal Kaplan and Abdullah Selvi, who directly accused me by name and instigated the first lynching? This happened after all the provocations and violence was managed and stopped with the support of the HDP.
These two names are still mentioned together with an interesting structure called “Pelikan,” and that this structure was able to overthrow a prime minister in the country. Do you think all the related claims and the November 4 operation against the HDP will not be endlessly investigated? Think of not only the Kobane massacres, but also the June 5, 2015 Diyarbakır massacre, the July 20, 2015 Suruç massacre and the October 10, 2015 Ankara massacre. Do you think its supporters will be kept a secret forever?
When, one day, the law starts to function, the documents and evidence that will come out will surprise even their owners.
Do you really believe that you can take down the HDP, which you could not deal with through politics or at the ballot box, through your gangs in the judiciary and in the media?
You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? Do you think this conspiracy will not be solved one day in all its dimensions?
You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist and that you will carry on despite everything you have done. I don’t think you are very brave or daring. What did we ever do, besides resist, to make you think you will be able to intimidate or discourage us?
But rest assured, the circle around you is tightening, and the days when you will be accountable to the law are nearing. I would advise you to be afraid. We trust in the truth and in justice. What do you have to trust?
Former Co-Chair of the HDP, Edirne Prison