29 June 2020
UPDATE: Ferhat Tunç and two other artists subjected to threats online
May 2020: Musicians Ferhat Tunç, Pınar Aydınlar and writer Gökhan Yavuzel received death threats on social media, reported Bianet.
The artists published a joint statement in which they declare that “we will not bow to the cruel threats and insults recently targeting us; on the contrary, solidarity and struggle give strength to our soul even more.”
Tunç told Freemuse that “threats increased after the discriminatory policy of the government”.
In February 2020, Ferhat Tunç was sentenced to 1 year and 11 months and 12 days in prison for spreading “terrorism propaganda”.
For more information on the silencing of artistic freedom in Turkey, read Freemuse joint submission with P24 to the UN UPR process.
13 February 2020
UPDATE: Istanbul court upholds Ferhat Tunç prison sentence
Reports suggest that the 2nd District Criminal Court of the Istanbul District Court of Justice rejected an appeal from musician Ferhat Tunç, upholding his prison sentence of 1 year and 11 months and 12 days for spreading ‘terrorism propaganda” through social media posts in 2015 and 2016.
The artist is reportedly ‘not surprised’ by the decision and remains in exile.
6 December 2019
On 4 December, an Istanbul court extended an arrest warrant issued against musician Ferhat Tunç to obtain his defence regarding the artist’s charges of “insulting the president.”
According to Duvar English, the decision was announced during the hearing which took place at Büyükçekmece 14th Criminal Court of First Instance.
“Up to now, I have lived for the people’s joy and sorrows and kept my artisanship in this direction; they wanted to me to betray my artisan identity, my own personal history and my humanity; but I have not and will not, and as you see, I am in exile,” said Tunç during the press conference held on 4 December.
The letter with the court’s decision will be sent to the artist who has lived in exile since the beginning of this year. The next hearing is set to take place on 4 February 2020.
23 August 2019
UPDATE: Arrest warrant issued against Ferhat Tunç in Turkey
An arrest warrant was issued against musician Ferhat Tunç before the closing of the investigation, reported Mezopotamya Ajansı on 21 August.
The Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No.37 issued an arrest warrant against Tunç for “spreading terrorist propaganda” through his social media. The arrest warrant was issued before the investigation was finished, and before asking Tunç for testimony at the prosecutor’s office.
The artist currently living in exile issued a statement saying:
“I called the Afrin operation an invasion. What is tearing hundreds of thousands of people away from their homes and their lands, and replacing them with wannabe-ISIS structures, if not an invasion? The issue is that I refuse to be a sycophant like Ibrahim Tatlises and Yavuz Bingol, who they took to the border to sing songs against Afrin. That I consider surrender to this tyrannical order a dishonor. I am a criminal if living without dishonor is a crime.”
12 April 2019
UPDATE: Fifth lawsuit brought against musician Ferhat Tunç in Turkey
A fifth lawsuit has been filed against musician Ferhat Tunç, this time for “insulting the then Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım” in 2016, reported Bianet on 12 April 2019.
Büyükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office charged Tunç for a tweet he posted in response to a statement by Yıldırım, saying “You must be kidding…The millions who voted for HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) is so honorable to not kneel down before your dictator whom you prostrate yourself before.”
“5 cases have been filed against me. Three of them were opened with the criticism of the president and the former prime minister. It is claimed that I have insulted the former prime minister, Binali Yildirim, and this is just based on the expression ‘cringed’ that I used for him,” Tunç told Freemuse.
“I would be in prison for years if I hadn’t gone abroad. Because of this threat, I had to leave the country and leave my whole life behind. After leaving the country, new investigations continued with unjustified allegations about me. I’ve been in Germany for a month.
Turkey is no longer a free and safe country for artists. The government is politically repressing artists who do not admit to its ‘power’, and they stop their support for those who want to create art pieces,” Tunç added.
This is the fifth lawsuit against Tunç, who is already on trial in four different cases with charges of “terrorist propaganda” and “insulting the president”. In September 2018, Tunç was sentenced to almost two years in jail for “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation”.
29 January 2019
Ferhat Tunç: “I want democracy, human rights and freedoms to win”
When musician Ferhat Tunç touched down in Istanbul on 13 January 2019 after visiting family in Germany, he was immediately arrested.
“I spent the night at a police station, standing with 80 others detained for different reasons; most of them were from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya,” Tunç told Freemuse.
“I say we were ‘standing’ but it was an inhumane picture; it was even difficult to find space for oneself standing.”
In the morning Tunç was taken to the prosecutor’s office at the Bakirköy Courthouse and presented with two separate files alleging he has organised terrorist propaganda through his artistic activities over the past decade.
After testifying for three hours and vehemently refusing the allegations, he was released, for now.
In September 2018, Tunç was sentenced to almost two years in jail for “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation”. He is appealing the sentence at the Supreme Court.
“I’ve got an audience of millions from different ethnic backgrounds and faiths. They listen to the melodies of living together in peace as well as the freedom and courage required for that life,” Tunç said.
“Even if I’m put into prison, I will continue to breathe the same air and experience the same happiness and worry. Just like a plumber who can’t leave his client’s house without finishing the task, I can never forget the responsibility of artists for the society – neither in mind, nor at heart,” he said.
“I want democracy, human rights and freedoms to win. I also want, of course, for arts and artists to be able to freely express themselves without being exposed to threats,” he said.
“Artists are the lights illuminating the road to civilisation and they must not be let going dark… If we don’t intend to remain in the dark.”
Tunç calls on everyone—include European countries and the US—to help protect democracy in Turkey.
“Turkey is now a country with law and democracy laid aside and dictatorship is reigning in all area,” he said.
“We all must protect the democratic gains of this country. My call to the perceptive, democratic governments of the world as well as artists and human rights advocates is to say ‘No’ to this course of events knowing no law.”
“I am convinced that we can only survive, standing, by spreading goodness and courage among ourselves. This is why my songs are sounds of peace. I don’t believe in letting ‘sleeping dogs’ lie. To remain silent is making one think that all these do influence our mind and soul – and frankly, what else do we have left?”
Tunç is fighting two other cases for allegedly “insulting the President”. The hearings are in March and April.