Imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş exposed a targeted campaign against him and his party, citing a specific report and media manipulation as part of a wider “Collapse Plan” in his ongoing defence in the Kobani trial on Tuesday.
Demirtaş, former co-chair of Turkey’s now defunct pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), described a concerted effort by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to undermine him and the party, starting from the aftermath of the HDP’s success in the 7 June 2015 elections. During his ongoing defence in the Kobani trial, Demirtaş pointed to a report prepared by the AKP-affiliated research institution SETA as the foundation of the “Collapse Plan” against the HDP.
“This report, prepared by SETA, an AKP research institution, was specially commissioned by the Presidency. It was not prepared to praise our party, me, or our policies. Indeed, Hüseyin Alptekin, who almost appeared on television every night to have us arrested, to be called murderers, is a special warfare element. This report is basically telling the Turkish state and the government, ‘Demirtaş and HDP are coming, do you realise the danger?’” Demirtaş said.
In the trial held at Sincan Prison Campus in Ankara, Demirtaş laid bare the strategies employed against him and his party. He asserted that the AKP viewed the HDP as a threat, leveraging a report from SETA to legitimise their actions. Demirtaş claimed the report was instrumental in framing the narrative against him and the HDP, particularly following ISIS’ siege of Kobani.
He discussed how the HDP’s gains in the 7 June 2015 elections led to the government “pushing the button” against them. “After the June 7 elections, where HDP achieved significant influence in Turkish politics, the government initiated investigations against us,” Demirtaş said. “They created such a large perception operation that at one point, even my wife Başak asked me, ‘Is there really no call from you?’”
Demirtaş also highlighted the role of media in shaping public perception, citing prominent journalist Ahmet Hakan’s articles from October 2014. Hakan’s writings at the time urged understanding of the Kurdish perspective, a stance Demirtaş contrasted with the later media portrayal of the HDP as instigators of violence. He stressed the shift in media narrative following articles by Abdulkadir Selvi, accusing Selvi of initiating a campaign against the HDP and himself. Demirtaş argued that this marked the beginning of a larger scheme to demonise the HDP, particularly after the party’s significant electoral gains.
“The first trigger for the attacks against us was pulled by Abdulkadir Selvi. We did a media scan of 6-7-8 October and there were no criticisms against HDP and Demirtaş. There were calls for common sense, news about our cooperation. There were news about reading Öcalan’s calls. After the tweets on 6 October, these criticisms did not exist. But the first person to trigger this was Abdulkadir Selvi,” Demirtaş noted. “He was not back then, but today, [Turkish journalist] Ahmet Hakan is a partisan. Those days, he was writing the truths with great courage. He wrote at length about Kobani’s connection with the Kurds emphatically.”
Further, Demirtaş criticised President Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli for exploiting anti-Kurdish sentiment for political gains. He underscored the urgency of ending the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader, advocating for renewed dialogue as a path to peace. Demirtaş lamented the ongoing conflict’s toll on Turkish and Kurdish youth, urging a move away from war policies.
Demirtaş noted that former AKP MP Mehmet Metiner “was the first to say that the order [to stage protests in Turkey against ISIS siege of Kobani] came from Kandil [a PKK stronghold in northern Iraq].” “The most important witness of this case is Mehmet Metiner, who slandered us. He should come here and we should interrogate him on this matter,” he said.