The Turkish-Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç could leave Izmir High Criminal Court as a free man on 4 October 2007. The Freemuse delegation succeeded its mission
When the court stated that there was nothing criminal in what Ferhat Tunç had said, his large group of supporters attending the court case found it difficult to keep quiet and hide their joy. The court room with room for 100 persons was fully seated, 15 tv-channels and a large group of journalists observed and reported from the trial.
The media attention was massive when singer Ferhat Tunç left the court room. Member of EU Parliament Mr. Bonde also joined the press meeting. Photo by Ole Reitov
Talking to the Turkish and International media after the court hearing, Ferhat Tunç expressed his relief, not only for his personal case – but for Turkey as such.
“The case gives creates some optimism of a future democracy,” Ferhat Tunç said.
The Danish musician Niels Hausgaard had travelled to Izmir with Freemuse’s delegation to support Ferhat Tunç and stand up for the principles of freedom of expression. “I can’t say for sure whether our presence made a difference in respect to the acquittal, but it certainly didn’t hurt to come here,” he told his Danish audience in an interview over the telephone with the national Danish radio channel DR P2. “I believe it is important that we make the world aware of these kind of things when they happen,” he added.
(Left:) 4 October 2007 was a happy day for Ferhat Tunç. Not only were the charges against him dropped, MEP J. P. Bonde also handed over a Danish Music Prize to him.
(Right:) Danish singer and entertainer Niels Hausgaard flew to Izmir to show his solidarity with Ferhat Tunç. Photos by Ole Reitov.
Ferhat Tunç went to trial over his remarks during a concert in Alanya on 22 July 2006, where he mentioned the Kurdish issue and demanded a peaceful solution, 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 considered this making propaganda for the Kurdish PKK.
Still a censored artist “It was a surprise to us that the court case took this direction and the prosecutor decided to withdraw the charges against Ferhat Tunç”, said Freemuse’s officer Ole Reitov.
The court hearing lasted an hour and a half, then the judges withdrew, and after two minutes they came back and said that “no element of crime has been established” by the prosecutor, and thus the whole case was dismissed.
Witnessed by Freemuse and a delegation from the EU Parliament and EU Commission office in Ankara the court case against Ferhat Tunç had created massive media attention in Turkey, and the court room was under severe security control. Freemuse had launched a campaign against the case, and since Danish singer Niels Hausgaard joined the Freemuse delegation the court case also drew media attention in Scandinavia.
Unfortunately the success of this campaign does not lead to an improved artistic situation for Ferhat Tunç. There is no sign that state controlled media in Turkey will play the music of Tunç. He is still a censored artist.