EU-politician and famous Danish musician join Freemuse delegation, travelling to attend the court case in Turkey against Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç on 4 October 2007.
When Turkish singer Ferhat Tunç enters the Izmir 10th High Criminal Court in Izmir on 4 October, the court case will be closely followed by one of the leading politicians in the European Parliament, Mr. Jens Peter Bonde and a Freemuse delegation.
[Update – inserted on 3 October 2007: Senior Political Advisor Ms Selma Kiliçer from the EU Commission office in Ankara will also observe the trial. Read more…]
Ferhat Tunç is accused of “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation.” The new case against him is raised over his remarks during a concert in Alanya on 22 July 2006, where Tunç mentioned the Kurdish issue and demanded a peaceful solution.
Ferhat Tunç is charged under ATL Article 7-2. The indictment quotes Ferhat Tunç as saying: ‘Each killed guerrilla is a son of this country too. I feel sorry for each killed soldier and also for each guerilla…’. The prosecutor considers this making propaganda for PKK.
Ferhat Tunç has been censored for many years by Turkish state media, and during his career he has been arrested several times. Ferhat Tunç has for years been a very important spokesman for the cultural rights of the Kurdish minority and earlier this year he received death threats.
Famous Danish musician gets involved The court case in Izmir will not only be attended by Mr. Bonde of the European Parliament. One of Denmark’s most famous singers, Niels Hausgaard, will fly to Izmir to show his solidarity with his Turkish colleague. The delegation will include Freemuse Programme Officer, Ole Reitov and Mr. Poul-Henrik Jensen, who represents DJBFA – a society of professional songwriters and composers.
Music prize to Ferhat Tunç Earlier this year, member of European Parliament Jens-Peter Bonde was awarded an honorary music prize by DJBFA for his work for the protection of composers rights in Europe. Mr. Bonde will hand over his prize to Ferhat Tunç during the visit to Izmir.
Support from Turkish human rights organisation On 27 September 2007, the Human Rights Association in Turkey declared in a statement that: “Ferhat Tunç’s ideas which are prosecuted amounts to demanding peace and democracy, to saying “enough is enough” to blood and tears. If that is a “crime”, it should be known that the millions of pro-peace people in Turkey are committing this “crime” all the time. We share Ferhat Tunç’s feelings and ideas. And we feel embarrassed because such ideas are prosecuted.” The Human Rights Association is a non-governmental organisation with nearly 16,000 members and 34 local branches around Turkey.
Series of protests This is not the first time artists show their solidarity with Tunç. In December 2005 several international artists, including Marcel Khalife and Salman Ahmad joined a Freemuse campaign requesting the Turkish State to drop another case against Ferhat Tunç.
The 2005-campaign even requested the Turkish government to review the Turkish legislation, with the aim of removing any remaining laws that can lead to the imprisonment of artists for practicing their right to free expression. The international community has several times demanded that Turkey abolishes the controversial Article 301.
Journalists, writers and musicians are often being charged under Article 301 of Turkey’s Penal Code, which makes “insulting Turkishness” a crime punishable by prison terms. Turkish rights groups, including BIANET and the Initiative for Freedom of Expression, have been reporting on the numerous trials and actively campaigning to abolish the law.
According to International PEN, ARTICLE 19 and the International Publishers Association (IPA), 18 trials against 24 people under Article 301 were heard between April and July 2007. Last month, International PEN, ARTICLE 19 and IPA issued an open letter to the newly-elected President of Turkey Adbulah Gül calling for the abolition of Article 301.
Amnesty Intational about Turkey In its recent report on freedom of expression in Turkey, Amnesty International writes that during 2007, “…laws containing fundamental restrictions on freedom of expression remained in force, resulting in the prosecution, and sometimes conviction, of groups such as journalists, writers, publishers, academics, human rights defenders and students for the peaceful expression of their beliefs.”
About Jens-Peter Bonde Mr. Bonde has been a member of the European Parliament since 1979. Today he represents the Danish June Movement and is the chair the IND/DEM group who are working for independence and democracy in the EU, and is also co-chairman of the SOS Democracy Intergroup. He is a founding member of the EU Democrats.
Ferhat Tunç: Freemuse ambassador Ferhat Tunç recently became an official Freemuse ambassador and writes in a letter: ‘I accepted this invitation that I took great pride in. In this way I will be required to take a more active role in international activities of Freemuse.’ (See link below to read the letter in full length).
Ferhat Tunç visited the Freemuse secretariat office in Copenhagen in January 2006 and spoke at a meeting in the Danish Parliament. On this occasion he met with Danish members of Parliament – amongst them former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft.