Lawyers who are defending detained PKK members are actually from within the terrorist group, as they are linked to the PKK or its KCK umbrella body in one way or another, the indictment prepared for an investigation in southeastern Gaziantep province against the terrorist network revealed.
The 3,253-page bill of indictment, which was prepared regarding 61 suspects, 32 of whom are arrested, explained in detail the terrorist group's process of arranging lawyers for the detained PKK members. The suspects include high-level members of the pro-PKK Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and the Democratic Regions Party (DBP). The indictment presents evidence gathered through technical and physical investigations, including digital material and reports by the cybercrimes department of the police.
Pointing to the group's tendency to conduct its activities through third-party organizations, such as a political party, an association or a newly branded group, the indictment said the lawyers are arranged from within a third-party organization in relation to the KCK, named the Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD).
"Suspects who made propaganda for the PKK/KCK terrorist group in a Nowruz event on March 21, 2019, have been captured and brought to the courthouse on March 30, 2019. During this process, a person with the initials A.I. (who is currently arrested) and other KCK members visited the courthouse in support of the detained suspects and their communication has been recorded. Again, others who are accused of similar crimes have called some KCK members and asked for help. As a result, these people are assisted by the lawyers who are members of Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD), which is currently shut down due to a decree-law," the indictment stated, adding that this scenario has taken place multiple times.
The KCK serves as an umbrella body of the PKK terrorist group and its Syrian and Iranian offshoots, the YPG and PJAK, in addition to various armed, youth and women's organizations.
The indictment also referred to a unique case, which was different from the others because it revealed the pressure the terrorist group puts on its members. In this case, a lawyer from ÖHD, with the initials M.A.A., was arranged for the defense of a suspect. The suspect did not want to be represented by the lawyer and yet was not able to express this demand since the lawyer was sent by the KCK. Unable to fire the lawyer, the suspect called two other KCK members with the initials M.Ö. and M.K. to ask for help.
"This case is found more interesting than the others. Normally, the citizens have the freedom to make an arrangement with any lawyer they want. However, the case revealed that when the lawyer is being sent by the KCK, such freedom is diminished. It is also recorded that in order to decline the arrangement with the lawyer, the suspect once again requires the assistance of KCK," the indictment stated about the case.
According to the indictment, although it is clear that the terrorist group arranges lawyers only from within the ÖHD, not all lawyers belonging to the association represent the accused.
"This type of lawyer arrangement is referred to as a 'shadow bar.' At this point, it is clear that the reason why the PKK/KCK arranges lawyers only from ÖHD for its members is because of the association's links to the terrorist group. It is determined that ÖHD membership or foundership should be used as a proof of membership to the terrorist group," the indictment continued.
The indictment also detailed ties between the PKK, KCK and HDP. Putting forth that a large number of the PKK and KCK’s activities were conducted under supposedly legal structures, it said, “The Free Women’s Movement (TJA) of the PKK/KCK was organized directly within the HDP women's assembly.” It said a similar situation happened with the youth structure of the party, from which members were recruited to the terrorist organization.
The indictment also stated that money was gathered within the scope of the PKK and KCK’s activities for members in prison, which was revealed through phone calls and footage, while meetings in this regard were held at the party’s buildings. It came to light that one of the arrested suspects, Mehmet Özkan, was responsible for the financial structuring of the organization in the province and that he gathered money at the HDP’s building in the Şahinbey district of Gaziantep. The indictment stated that nearly TL 1.5 million ($219,022) was collected.
Referring to the PKK’s Syrian wings, the indictment said: “There was huge participation in the PYD/YPG from both Gaziantep and the whole of Turkey in 2015. The HDP played a significant role in this participation.”