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Turkey European observers barred from the trial of HDP leader

AN INTERNATIONAL delegation was barred from entering the courtroom for the trial of the pro-Kurdish opposition HDP party’s co-leader Figen Yuksekdag in Ankara yesterday.

About 30 delegates representing organisations from Britain, Ireland, France, Italy, Greece, Norway and Denmark were told they presented a “security threat” and turned away.

Delegates faced an uncomfortable wait in freezing temperatures as negotiations regarding their presence in the courtroom were conducted.

According to HDP officials, the judge’s decision was to allow the delegation into the court, but the chief of police insisted that this would not be allowed and ordered police in riot gear to block the prison entrance.

As police banged their shields in an attempt to intimidate the international observers, GMB delegate Dennis McNulty told the Star that the scene reminded him of the Wapping dispute.

This was the third court hearing for Ms Yukeskdag, who had refused to attend September’s hearing when the judge insisted on holding it in private, with room for just 20 people. The international delegates present were then branded terrorists and terrorist sympathisers by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Many believed the judge and police were acting on Mr Erdogan’s orders yesterday in blocking the international delegates. Ms Yuksekdag told the judge that blocking the delegation showed he was not impartial.

“You are not unbiased. This decision was not made by you. You are damaging the trial from the start,” she said.

Lines of the ruling AKP party’s supporters were observed being allowed access to the courtroom and were fast-tracked through the gates, pushing past others to make their way inside.

They seemed to be on a list of approved observers and showed what appeared to be party membership cards to police on the gate as they entered the prison.

The trial was postponed until February 20, the Star learnt as it went to press yesterday.

Speaking in an HDP briefing after the lockout, Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey drew a comparison between between the Turkish party and the republican movement in Ireland.

“The government tried to criminalise the struggle, but they failed,” he said.

British Labour MPs Kate Osamor and Dan Carden are expected to join the delegation today for the trial of the other HDP co-leader Selhattin Demirtas who has been in prison for 399 days.

Mr Demirtas will not attend today’s hearing as he was only permitted to appear via video link, which he refused.


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