ISTANBUL (AP) – More than 100 people linked to a pro-Kurdish party are due on Monday in the Turkish capital, Ankara, for their alleged involvement in violent protests nearly seven years ago.
Prosecutors have indicted the 108 accused with 29 crimes, including the murders of 37 people, and are calling for multiple life sentences and thousands of years in prison The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, says the trial is politically motivated and is the latest in a severe government crackdown on them.
Among the accused are the former leaders of the HDP. Although they did not directly commit acts of violence, they were charged with these offenses for incitement to violence.
All of the charges relate to the “Kobani protests” which took place from October 6 to 8, 2014, as the Islamic State group moved closer to the Syrian town of Kobani, just across the Turkish border. As ISIS took control of the countryside and entered the city, Syrian Kurdish militants fought the extremists in street-to-street battles.
Many Kurds in Turkey were frustrated by what they saw as the Turkish government’s inaction to help defeat ISIS. They were asking Turkey to open the border.
Smaller protests were already taking place, but they gained momentum after the HDP on October 6 tweeted an “urgent call” for people to take to the streets to protest ISIS attacks and The Turkish government’s “embargo” on Kobani. He said the situation was critical in Kobani.
The protests turned violent but the HDP maintains their call was peaceful and that there were provocateurs. The 3,350-page indictment says 37 people died, 761 – including hundreds of law enforcement officials – were injured, 197 schools were set on fire, 269 public buildings damaged, 1,731 houses and businesses looted and 1,230 cars rendered unusable.