More than 1,000 people sign petition calling on Turkish authorities to drop trial against a Kurdish singer
Singer Ferhat Tunc is facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years on the grounds of a speech made at a cultural festival in the south-eastern province of Siirt. The international writers association, International PEN, addressed the prime minister with
regard to this case.
Tunc is charged with spreading propaganda for the PKK organization , the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, and committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization .
The case against the defendant is being heard at the Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court. During a 1 October hearing, his joint attorneys claimed that his speech should be evaluated within the boundaries of freedom of expression and requested their
Freemuse Award winner, Ferhat Tunç was acquitted from the Diyarbarkir Criminal Court in Turkey.
Facing a 15 year prison sentence because of a speech he made during the First Eruh-Çirav Nature Culture and Arts Festival on 15 August 2009, Tunç was tried under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law. The judges - after a one hour break at
the Diyarbarkir High Criminal Court - decided there was no evidence of Tunç having committed any crime.
In a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister, Freemuse and the artists protested against the continuous harassments against Tunç and appealed for the dismissal of the case. The campaign was joined by the President's of the Nordic Pen centres.
Ferhat Tunç in a phone call from Diyarbarkir to Freemuse forwarded his gratitude to everyone who has supported him.
But one day after the acquittal of Ferhat Tunç the Istanbul police turned up at his home to inform the singer that he will be charged in two new cases
Ferhat Tunç in a mail to Freemuse writes: Such is my life! Tomorrow I will have to present myself once again to the police .
Freemuse regrets that the Turkish authorities continue the harassment of the singer.
Ferhat Tunc, one of Turkey's most popular and outspoken musicians, last week found himself on the wrong side of the law, when a court sentenced him to two years in prison.
In 2011, Tunc, an Index on Censorship Free Expression prize winner, stood an independent parliamentary candidate for Labour, Democracy and Freedom Bloc. During a speech in Tunceli, where he was standing for election, he referred to three political
figures, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, Mahir Cayan and Deniz Gezmis, whose revolutionary spirit he announced to have shared in his own political struggle.
These long-deceased political figures have become symbols for some of Turkey's socialists over the last four decades. Their images often appear on t-shirts, souvenirs and Istanbul's walls in the form of graffiti. All waged an armed war against Turkish
state and were captured and executed as a result. But they have little following in society (radical left parties rarely get more than 0.1% of votes) and like Che Guevara, their names often stand for youthful romanticism, rather than hard politics.
But according to the Malatya court, the enunciation of their names is a direct reference to the outlawed Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (MLKP). Tunc, has now been convicted of propagandising for the group.
The singer has said he will appeal and his lawyer, Ercan Kanar announced they would bring the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Freedom of speech campaigners, PEN Turkey, came to the support of famed pianist Fazil Say who was prosecuted in Turkey for trivial insults about religion.
Their denouncement of Turkish repression got the campaigners themselves into trouble for supposedly insulting the Turkish state.
PEN Turkey write on their website:
As a result of an announcement constituting support for Fazil Say that we gave as the PEN Board on 3 June , we were called to the prosecutor's office to submit an official statement under Article 301. On 10 January 2013, we submitted an official
statement. In the announcement that is the subject of the complaint, we said the following:
As the Turkey Centre of the international writers association PEN, we strongly condemn and meet with consternation the [news] that our esteemed composer and pianist Fazil Say has been called up to court. The international community has been put on alert
in the face of fascist developments in Turkey.
In the official statement we submitted as the board, we outlined that the above words were an expression of thought and a criticism, that they were not intended as being aimed as an insult. We emphasised that the right to criticise, a constitutional and
legal right, was being exercised. As a result, it was requested that a decision not to prosecute would be given.
Musician and 2010 Freemuse Award winner Ferhat TunÁ has been sentenced in Turkey to one year, 11 months and 12 days in prison for making propaganda of a terrorist organization. The charge relates to messages shared on TunÁ's social media in
December 2016, with the terrorist organization referring to the Kurdistan Workers Party and Kurdistan Peoples Community. TunÁ plans to appeal the verdict at the Court of Appeal in the next week.
Alongside this case, TunÁ faces two additional trials on the charges of publicly inciting hatred and hostility f or tweets shared on 16 April 2017, including '#WeAreNotSilent'; and insulting the President through messages shared on his
social media in 2016.
Freemuse calls for a transparent, fair and impartial appeals process and for the Turkish government to drop all charges against TunÁ. Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said:
The sentencing of Ferhat TunÁ to prison is a human rights scandal in Turkey. When a musician who sings peacefully is imprisoned for promoting terrorism, the world knows that Turkey is stepping up its efforts to silence artists and art communities. The
imprisonment of TunÁ is the imprisonment of artistic freedom in Turkey.