Jailed Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, continuing his defence in the high-profile Kobani trial on Tuesday, dedicated his statements to his father, Tahir Demirtaş, who recently passed away.
“I dedicate my defence to my father, who tirelessly raised seven children, despite his illiteracy,” began Demirtaş, who has been in prison since 2016 despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for his release. He continued, reflecting on the broader plight of the Kurdish people, “Our struggle has always been for the honour and identity of the Kurdish people on their lands. This struggle has made us experts in democracy.”
Demirtaş then directly addressed the court with a more pointed critique. “The state to which you and I belong has forcibly occupied our homeland. It is the state that has broken the agreement of decency,” he stated, openly criticising the Turkish state’s treatment of Kurds.
He further questioned the state’s actions and the broader context of global injustice, asking rhetorically, “Why is there so much evil? Why such sheer malevolence towards us? Why is such pure evil being inflicted?”
Demirtaş highlighted the issue of cultural and political identity. “We have become prisoners of identities that we have invented ourselves,” he lamented, adding, “People do not trust politics because politics cannot give people what they expect.”
Demirtaş also countered the accusations against him and his colleagues with a bold assertion, “We defended goodness, and we have won. Did we occupy Ankara?”
The Kobani trial implicates 108 individuals, including former leaders and central executive committee members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), predecessor of the Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party).
Amidst these weighty proceedings, Demirtaş concluded his defence with a message of resilience and hope, “We will maintain our stance by turning our pain into honey.”