Turkish-German MEP barred from observing Ankara bombing trial in Turkey
Turkish authorities on Thursday prevented Özlem Demirel, a Turkish-German Member of the European Parliament from Germany's Left Party (Die Linke), from observing a trial in Ankara of the 2015 peace rally bombings that killed over 100 people.
"When asked why I was banned from entering the courthouse, the Turkish security forces said it was 'inappropriate' for a non-Turkish citizen and a member of the European Parliament to be present inside,” Demirel said.
"It is scandalous that my role as an observer to the trial was deemed inappropriate. We await full answers as to exactly why I was disallowed from fulfilling my duty today,” she said.
More than 100 people lost their lives in the 2015 bombing, making it the most deadly in recent Turkish history. Most of those who died were attending a "Labour, Peace and Democracy" rally protesting the growing conflict between the Turkish military and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) following the breakdown of peace talks a few months earlier.
Two bombers belonging to the Islamic State (ISIS) blew themselves up in the midst of a crowd made up largely of leftists and Kurdish sympathisers, making it the deadliest terror attack in modern Turkish history.
Questions have long loomed over the case, with the country’s opposition pointing to the involvement of shadowy nationalist rogue organisations.
"It is unacceptable that my colleague Özlem Demirel has been denied the right to monitor the court hearing. Such observation visits have so far been a common practice in our bilateral cooperation," Sergey Lagodinsky, the chair of the Turkey delegation of the European Parliament, said in a press statement.
"Such incidents have potential to further strain our bilateral parliamentary relations and ultimately destroy any remaining confidence in the rest of democratic culture in Turkey."