Demirtaş congratulates Turkish court over ‘blatant violation’ of ECHR ruling

Imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş on Tuesday said the judges presiding over his case deserved to be congratulated for “blatantly violating” a binding ruling by a top European court, and “gifting Turkey another extremely severe rights violation ruling.”

“When a violation is detected, one would expect the court to eliminate said violation,” daily Evrensel cited Demirtaş as saying during a court hearing of the politician on terror charges. “But you can’t, because your chairman Erdoğan said he would not protect the so-called rights of a terrorist.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had accused the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of “defending a terrorist”, Sözcü newspaper reported, over the top court’s December decision that the arrest of Demirtaş, former leader of Turkey’s second-largest opposition bloc Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), lacked evidence and that the Kurdish politician should be released immediately.

Tuesday’s hearing in the capital Ankara started with Demirtaş’s lawyers demanding the inclusion of a readout of the ECHR ruling in the court minutes, which the court refused.

“You pretend that the ECHR ruling doesn’t exist,” said lawyer Mahsuni Karaman in the hearing. “It is understood that you’ll ignore it going forward.”

“There is a 99 percent chance that the government will change in the next elections, and you will answer for what you’ve done to me,” Demirtaş said. “I demand that the case is postponed until after the elections, to July 2023.”

“We openly engaged in politics as co-chairs of the HDP,” Demirtaş said, referencing Figen Yüksekdağ, his co-chair at the time of both their arrests in 2016, “and so did you. But you did it under wraps.”

Demirtaş accused the court of receiving orders from an advisor to Erdoğan. “Mehmet Uyum has nothing on even the youngest member of the court,” Demirtaş said. “Yet you couldn’t say, ‘Who are you, a mere advisor, to give us orders? Why? Because Mehmet is in the palace for now.”

“You are the ones who would defend our rights,” Demirtaş said. “Now it’s debatable that you even have a neutral side.”

The ECHR’s Grand Chamber ruled with 17 judges that the Turkish court’s judicial activity was politically motivated and in violation of five separate articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, Demirtaş said. The ECHR ruling is binding for courts in Turkey, he added. “Yet you act like it’s binding for Bahçeli, Soylu and Erdoğan,” he said, referring to Erdoğan’s ally in parliament, far-right leader Devlet Bahçeli, and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

The court aided in the establishment of a one-man dictatorship, Demirtaş said. “It’s not about me. Any decision you make will deepen ties between politics and the judiciary in Turkey. Increase gangs in the state.”

Demirtaş is facing up to 142 years in prison for a variety of terrorism charges, including charges of propaganda over his speeches as a member of parliament and incitement to violence over his call for democratic protests for the town of Kobani. He was arrested in Nov. 2016, together with co-chair Yüksekdağ and several HDP deputies.