The former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas has told the court trying him on terror charges that the real criminals in Turkey are those who rule the country by suspending the Constitution, T24 news portal on Wednesday.
The trial against Demirtas, who is currently jailed in the western province of Edirne, resumed on Wednesday in the Sincan Prison Complex in Ankara, where he attended the hearing through an online video conference system called SEGBIS.
The former HDP co-leader, who was arrested as part of an investigation carried out by the Diyarbakır Chief Prosecutor’s Office and has been in jail since November 4, 2016, faces 142 years in prison if convicted on terror charges.
Referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government during the court hearing, Demirtas claimed that they are the real criminals for suspending the Constitution in Turkey.
“Those who rule Turkey are committing the biggest crime. The Constitution is currently suspended,” he said.
Demirtas added that Article 138 of the Constitution, which says that judges shall be independent in the discharge of their duties, is being violated by the government every day.
“They loudly shout instructions to the judiciary. Tens of thousands of people are unlawfully dismissed from their state jobs on the order of the [AKP] government,” he underlined.
As part of a nation-wide purge in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the ruling AKP issued several state-of-emergency decrees and sacked more than 150,000 people from their public sector jobs.
Demirtas further argued that the summary of proceedings issued against him by the prosecutors is politically-motivated.
“The crimes that I’m charged with date back to September 28, 2013. The summary of proceedings is prepared on February 24, 2016. Even the two and a half years of time gap between the alleged crime and the summary of proceedings shows it is drafted with political motivations,” he stated.
After reading one of his speeches included in the file against him, Demirtas added: “They did not say which of my remarks exactly constitute the crime of making terrorist propaganda. I guess we’ll have to guess. I think that’s what they also did.”
Indicating that the words Kurdish and Kurdistan were written in the summary of proceedings with lowercase letters, the former pro-Kurdish leader said that the prosecutor’s attitude is “extremely prejudiced and political.”
Holding forth that there is nothing promoting violence in his speeches, Demirtas added that he thinks what constitutes the crime he is charged with is his using the words Kurdish and Kurdistan.
“I am a Kurd. But I don’t remember it as long as you don’t tell me ‘You’re not Kurdish.’ Most of the time, I only remember being human. But I see it as an insult that it is still considered in Turkey as propaganda for a terrorist organization to say Kurdish or Kurdistan,” he noted.
“Yes, Kurdistan exists as a historical and geographical reality. Its borders are not political but sociological. It is my homeland and an important part of it is within the boundaries of the State of the Republic of Turkey,” Demirtas elaborated.
He highlighted that although he is not a nationalist, he flies into a rage when people make fun of his Kurdish identity.
“I lose my temper when I see those who accuse me of making terrorist propaganda just because I used the word Kurdistan. This is a matter that concerns human dignity,” Demirtas further explained.