Turkish President Erdoğan says Kobanê sentences ‘put minds at ease’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the harsh prison sentences the court has handed to Kurdish politicians in the Kobanê trials “put the minds overrun with grief for the last ten years at ease,” and that he would not condone any undue criticisms.

Duvar English

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on May 20 targeted those on trial in the Kobanê Case, saying the decades-long prison sentences handed to Kurdish politicians “put minds at ease,” during a judicial ceremony held at the capital province of Ankara. 

Erdoğan expressed his opinions about the ongoing case in front of a panel of judges, as the appeal processes of the trial had not yet begun.

According to the President, the Kobanê protests were “a terrorist uprising” organized by “elements of the separatist organization,” using the developments in Syria as an excuse.

The protesters “attempted an insurrection directly targeting the survival of our state,” he suggested.  

Erdoğan also criticized opposition parties, most notably the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party for denouncing the harsh prison sentences. 

“Trying to launder a terrorist uprising by calling it a 'political case' is, above all, an insult to the law and democracy,” Erdoğan said. Defendants often described the Kobanê trials as “political vengeance” against notable Kurdish politicians.

He continued, “Ten years after the insurrection attempt, we see that justice has been served, albeit late, and we are pleased with this.” 

A Turkish court on May 16 handed out prison sentences to 28 Kurdish politicians including Selahattin Demirtaş, Figen Yüksekdağ, and Ahmet Türk.

Some 218 people were on trial, with 17 under custody since 2016 including then-deputies and co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The deputies were indicted after the Turkish Parliament voted to revoke their legislative immunities. 

After the years-long trial was concluded, multiple governors’ offices in Turkey, especially in the Kurdish-majority provinces, have declared four-day protest bans in anticipation of a reaction.  

The governor’s office referred to the Kobanê case in the statement and stated that there were  "terrorist organization sympathizers, marginal and radical groups who want to repeat the grave events that took place in the city before."

The Kobanê protests took place between Oct. 6 and 8, 2014, and caused the deaths of dozens. Protesters flooded streets in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast at the time, outraged over the Turkish government's inaction in protecting Syrian Kurds as ISIS besieged Kobanê, across the Syrian border.