Sırrı Süreyya Önder, an MP from the pro-Kurdish Green Left Party, sharply criticised Turkey’s broad definition of terrorism at the 31st hearing of the high-profile Kobanê Case on Thursday. The hearing took place at Ankara 22nd Heavy Penal Court and involved 108 politicians, including 18 who are detained.
The Kobanê Case centres on protests that erupted in multiple cities across Turkey between 6-8 October 2014, following an attack by the Islamic State (ISIS) on the northern Syrian town of Kobanê. Among the detained politicians are former co-chairs of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş.
Önder argued that the case is not just unlawful but “outside the law”, questioning the legal complications arising from his dual role as a defendant and a lawmaker. He emphasised that his parliamentary immunity should be considered and requested the court to adjourn until it is sorted. However, the court rejected this and asked him to continue his defence.
In his defence, Önder was explicit about his concerns regarding the legal framework surrounding the case. “Nowhere in the world is there such a broad concept of terrorism. You can’t just throw in everything you can think of like a ragbag,” he stated.
Önder also took issue with the court’s handling of his parliamentary immunity. “I want the esteemed court to continue the trial after taking a break to sort out my immunity,” he said. Despite his plea, the court decided to proceed without considering it.
The MP also criticised inconsistencies in the application of laws and regulations, stating that the current system makes it impossible for him to effectively serve in the parliament. He pointed out a significant absence in the court proceedings: the lack of any mention of ISIS. He stated, “There is something the prosecutor has missed in this trial. Here, there is no mention of ISIS.” Önder argued that if it weren’t for the resistance in Kobanê, ISIS would have been in Adana, highlighting his view that the trial’s focus is misplaced and questions the integrity of the legal process.
Önder further mentioned a claim that the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) provided financial support to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), despite not being asked for an opinion in the case. He described the situation as “Absürdistan,” implying an absurd state of affairs, and stated that no Turk who proudly says “How happy is the one who says I am a Turk” is actually happy.