Selahattin Demirtaş, the former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) who has been in pre-trial detention since November 2016 as part of the high-profile Kobani trial, concluded his defence on Monday. In addition to presenting his legal arguments, Demirtaş also outlined a comprehensive seven-point plan to address the Kurdish issue.
Concluding his defence in Kurdish, Demirtaş emphasised the need for non-violent politics. Referring to Turkish-Kurdish relations, he stated: “Modernity encapsulates violence. Politics is by its very nature authoritarian and harbours violence in its folds. For the purification of politics from violence, compulsory democratisation is imperative. The traumatising violence in Turkish-Kurdish relations must be deconstructed. I’ve been talking about this for several days now. As long as this trauma is not alleviated, it is duplicitous to condemn violence and at the same time play a political role.”
“What is the crime we have committed? Our efforts for the eradication of this violence and trauma are being branded as terrorism,” Demirtaş added.
Demirtaş stressed that the process of democratisation was essential for the political sphere. He placed the responsibility for taking the first step on the government, arguing that weapons must be silenced and made obsolete. Politicians should follow the lead of the state with confidence, Demirtaş stressed. Democratisation and the crucial need for education are key issues, he said. According to Demirtaş, morality and virtue are the guiding principles for the initial step, which should be taken with conscious intention.
Demirtaş outlined his seven-point plan for the solution of the Kurdish question, suggesting:
1- Negotiating a legal framework for a quick, effective and lasting solution with the relevant parties to end the armed conflict.
2- The removal of all legal and administrative obstacles to democratic politics, bringing freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of organisation and freedom of protest into line with global standards.
3- Recognition of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM) as the ultimate forum for the resolution of the Kurdish issue, with a focus on the drafting of a new, liberal, civilian constitution which addresses broader societal concerns.
4- Guarantee in the Constitution the freedom to use the Kurdish language in all spheres of society, to preserve and develop their culture, to organise themselves in accordance with their identity and to secure their right to self-government.
5- Investigation of past grievances and crimes, and facilitation of truth and reconciliation processes.
6- Abandonment of the imposition of official ideology and history, restructuring of the state with a scientific, objective historical approach and a transition to critical pedagogy and scientific education.
7- Withdrawal of the legal cases arising from the Kurdish question, repeal of the anti-terror law and the release of all political prisoners.
The jailed former co-chair of HDP has been behind bars for seven years, accused of “publicly denigrating the government and state organs” during rally speeches in 2015 and 2016, and faces up to 20 years in prison.