Seven people were sentenced to life imprisonment in the case relating to the ‘6-8 October 2014 Kobanî protests’ in which five people died and twenty four were injured in the city of Gaziantep (Dilok) in Turkey. Three others received lighter sentences.
According to Mesopotamia Agency, the final hearing of the Kobanî case took place in Gaziantep. The case was related to the 6-8 October 2014 incidents, which were triggered when then premier Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that Kobanî in northern Syria was “on the brink of falling” as the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked it with artillery.
Gaziantep 2nd High Penal Court sentenced the seven to life on the charge of aiming to “destroy the unity and integrity of the state”. Three others were sentenced to three years, six months and ten days in prison on the same grounds on 5 January.
Whilst Ayhan Işık and his lawyer attended the hearing, the other defendants did not participate in it. Işık and the other defence lawyers demanded acquittal. The prosecutor repeated the demand for sentencing and the court announced life sentences for Mehmet Caymaz, İzzet Nas and Ayhan, İmam, İbrahim, Mehmet and Muhittin Işık. After the sentences were announced, Ayhan Işık was arrested and sent to prison. The court also ruled that N.Ü., A.İ. and A.K. were to be acquitted.
Context: The Kobanî protests
The war in Syria began in 2011. As ISIS gained strength, it attacked Kobanî on 15 September 2014, following the takeover of the city of Mosul. Meanwhile, ISIS released 49 Turkish consulate staff who were being held as hostages and delivered them to Turkey.
The silence of Turkey’s government and leaders regarding ISIS’s attacks triggered reactions in Turkey’s eastern cities. The ISIS attacks led people in Turkey to take to the streets on 6 October. Protests broke out in 35 cities, including İstanbul, İzmir, Ankara and Gaziantep. Also, Erdoğan’s statement relating to Kobanî intensified tensions and led to the protests spreading. In total, 54 people lost their lives during the incidents.
Recently, Turkish authorities have launched new detention and criminalisation-linked ‘operations’ in relation to the ‘Kobanî case’. On 25 September, Ankara’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office decided to detain 82 people in seven provinces as part of the investigation probe into the ‘Kobanî protests’ of October 2014. Seventeen Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politicians were arrested.