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INTERNATIONAL observers were blocked from entering the court hearing of Turkish opposition co-leader Selahittin Demirtas in Ankara for a second day yesterday as police intimated pro-democracy protesters outside with water cannons.
The court in Ankara’s Sincan prison again cited “security concerns” for barring the delegation of local and international supporters who had come to observe the trial of the jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-leader.
Mr Demirtas faces a 142-year jail sentence for “establishing and managing a terrorist organisation,” charges he denies.
Yesterday’s hearing was the first since his arrest on November 4 2016 along with 10 other HDP deputies.
Mr Demirtas refused to take part in the proceedings after he was ordered to testify via video-link instead of being allowed to appear at the court in person.
Late on Wednesday night the the lawyer of HDP co-leader Figen Yuksekdag, whose third court appearance took place on Wednesday, explained that prosecutors were demanding she be jailed for life in solitary confinement.
Outside the court HDP executive member for Ankara Abdurrahman Ayhan said: “They [the police] blocked our coaches and wouldn’t let HDP officers arrange for people to be taken to the court.”
“It is supposed to be a free and open city but the police won’t let our people in.”
Reporting was also banned, with police trying to stop an interview with HDP vice president Hisyar Ozsoy.
“They banned our press call from taking place outside the prison and told us there would be no media interviews and nothing was allowed to be filmed,” Mr Oszoy told the Star.
“Ironically the road leading to the prison is called Justice Avenue. But here there is no justice.”
As hundreds of supporters gathered outside the prison, Turkish police broke up a traditional halay dance — branding it a political act of resistance.
Labour London Assembly member Jeanette Arnold witnessed police aiming water cannon at protesters, describing it as as “shocking.”
“I had to be here to see how the Turkey that I love has fallen into this darkness where water cannons can be used against people who asked why and seek justice for their elected representatives,” she said.
But HDP MP for Diyarbakir Feleknal Uca said it was important for the world to hear what is going on inside Turkey.
“Nobody is reporting what is happening in the country. The international delegations are so important in getting the message.”
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