The Malatya specially authorized Third Court for Serious Crimes sentenced Kurdish-Alevi singer and composer Ferhat Tunç to two years behind bars on the charge of "making propaganda for a terrorist organization" due to his invocation of the names of deceased Turkish leftists Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya during a speech he gave on May 1, 2011 in the eastern province of Dersim (Tunceli.)
"I greet you all in the revolutionary spirit of Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya," Ferhat Tunç had said during the May 1st celebrations in Dersim in 2011.
The decision was unexpected and politically motivated, Tunç told bianet.
Lawyer Ercan Kanar, who represents Tunç in court, also said the court had convicted his client on the claim that he was making propaganda on behalf of the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) because of his reference to İbrahim Kaypakkaya during the speech.
"A worrying development for democracy and freedoms"
Ferhat Tunç said his statements ought to have been regarded within the scope of the freedom of speech.
Such a verdict represents a worrying development for democracy and freedoms in Turkey right at a time when the status of specially authorized courts has come under question, he added.
"I was invited to the festivities in Dersim on May 1 last year as an independent deputy [candidate of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP.)] I was put on trial because I had said 'I greet you all in the revolutionary spirit of Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan and İbrahim Kaypakkaya,' during the speech I delivered there. Based on this statement, [authorities] then claimed I was making propaganda on behalf of the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) without being a member of it," Tunç said.
"1980s Martial law revisited"
The court's verdict has smothered universal principles of law, according to lawyer Ercan Kanar.
The decision also demonstrated once more what a great setup and offensive the freedoms of thought and expression in Turkey have come under through specially authorized courts, he said.
"This verdict goes to show that Turkey is almost revisiting the state of emergency in the 1990s and the period of martial law in the 1980s," Kanar said.
They were going to appeal the decision first at Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals, he said. If the Supreme Court of Appeals also ratifies the verdict, however, then the defendant party will bring the case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR,) lawyer Kanar added.
Kanar said they were certain the ECHR would convict Turkey as in previous cases, as the court had passed this verdict solely because of Tunç's invocation İbrahim Kaypakkaya's name. (EKN)