Figen Yuksekdag refuses to enter court after delegation barred
LEADING Turkish leftwinger Figen Yuksekdag refused to attend a court hearing at an Ankara prison yesterday in protest at the exclusion of international observers and supporters.
The former co-leader of the left-wing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said in a statement that if she was not allowed to speak to the public, she had nothing to say to the court.
Delegations from Britain, France, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Canada were made to wait for hours in the blistering heat outside the heavily guarded prison in Sencan as negotiations took place over access to the hearing.
However, the group — including lawyers, politicians, journalists and embassy officials — were told that the chair of the court had decided to refuse them entry.
HDP foreign affairs spokesman Hisyar Oszoy said the “politically motivated decision” was a violation of Turkish law and the government viewed the international delegates as “aiding and abetting terrorists.”
“They are trying to isolate our deputies as much as possible. And this is a political trial,” he said.
Ms Yuksekdag’s trial is one of the most high-profile in recent Turkish history. She was arrested in her Ankara home as part of a series of night-time raids on HDP MPs in towns and cities across Turkey in November 2016.
She stands accused of terrorism for speeches made in the Turkish parliament and her attendance at a number of rallies in support of Kurdish rights. If found guilty, she faces an 83-year jail sentence.
At a press conference outside the prison, HDP spokeswoman Ayse Basaran said the courts were “instruments of the government” with officials afraid of being “exiled” if they failed to follow their orders.
Speaking exclusively to the Star, she said police had told her that they had been instructed not to allow foreign observers into the court.
Ms Basaran added that the government had made “fools of themselves in front of the whole world” and branded the trial “an attack on the will of the people.”
Ministers had refused to allow international supporters to join the press conference as “they do not want the public to see the support that Figen Yuksekdag has,” Ms Basaran argued.