Freemuse Award winner, Ferhat Tunç, has been sentenced to 25 days in prison for a speech he made during a concert in 2006.
Tunç was earlier tried and later on acquitted in the same case of charges of “spreading propaganda for the [illegal] Maoist Communist Party” (MKP) on the grounds of a concert at the 2nd Nazımiye Düzgün Baba Festival on 12 August 2006.
During the concert, Ferhat Tunç said, “We have to overcome and destroy the fears imposed on us. There are armed conflicts in our country, people die – we have to take a stance against that and get rid of our fears. We want to sing songs of peace freely on our ground without fear and worries. Therefore, the clashes have to be brought to an end and all of us have to do whatever we can. Let us all-together say no to war.”
Ferhat Tunç’s speech was followed by his performance of a song called ‘No to War’.
Act of supporting crime
The Chief Prosecutor had charged Tunç of “making propaganda for an illegal terrorist organisation” by referring to the “memory of the 17’ers” (17 people who died in a military operation against the MKP in 2004).
The investigation document mentioned concert visitors chanting slogans such as “Dersim [former name of the Tunçeli province] is proud of you” which was evaluated as an alleged “act of supporting crime.”
Freemuse protests against the continuous persecution of the Turkish singer. For several years he has been an important spokesman for the Kurdish people’s demands for equal rights and freedom of speech.
According to the Human Rights Watch 2011 World Report, violations of freedom of expression in Turkey still fuel concern. The section on Turkey also highlights the government’s lack of attention on the human rights situation and Turkey comes under criticism for “alleged speech crimes, the arbitrary use of terrorism laws, unnecessarily prolonged pre-trial detention, a clampdown on the legal pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), and police violence against demonstrators”.
Update by 28 January 2011
Antenna’s Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin (Issue No 04/11) reported on 28 January 2011 that the Malatya 3rd High Criminal Court had decided for a postponement of the court ruling. Instead, it was decided that ionly f the singer commits a similar crime he will have to go to prison and the judicial expenses will then have to be paid by the artist.
The prosecutor at the hearing had asked for an overrule of the acquittal as he repeated his claim that the folk song ‘17 Can’ (‘17 souls’) which Ferhat Tunç had sung, was “promoting the crime and the criminal”.
Ferhat Tunç declared that he is reporting his case to the European Court of Human Rights in order to have it documented. He called the court case “a disgrace”, and told that he is spending more time on handling the continuous stream of court cases than on writing and playing music.