Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç is facing a 15-year prison sentence because of a speech Tunç delivered at the 1st Eruh-Çirav Nature and Culture Arts Festival (south-eastern province of Siirt) on 15 August 2009. He 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" according to article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and article 220/6 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) respectively.
Un-detained defendant Tunç is tried at the Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court. In the hearing on 1 October, his joint attorneys claimed that his speech should be evaluated within the boundaries of freedom of expression and requested their client's acquittal.
The lawyers presented the copy of a letter from the Scandinavian group of the PEN Writers Association to the court. The group had addressed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in regard to the prosecution of Tunç.
The court adjourned the case to 4 November in order to complete missing documents in the file. Among the people in the audience supporting the singer was writer Şehymus Diken.
What did Tunç say?
The charges pressed against Tunç are based on a speech he gave during his concert at the festival. He had said:
"After 25 years you are opening a new window to peace and brotherhood from Eruh. I am just as excited as you are to turn this march, that you started on the expense of your lives and your blood, towards peace".
1,000 signatures to drop the case
363 intellectuals came together in the "Initiative for Solidarity with Ferhat Tunç" They managed to gather more than one thousand signatures for their request to drop the case. The writing was also signed by writerYaşar Kemal, Law Prof. Mithat Sancar, journalist Perihan Mağden, sociologist İsmail Beşikci, Prof. Halil Berktay, İrfan Açıkgöz, publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincanı, political scientist Haluk Gerger and Şanar Yurdatapan from the Initiative against Thought Crime. (BT/EÖ/VK)
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