On 23 January 2018, musician and 2010 Freemuse Award winner Ferhat Tunç was presented with a third indictment in four months over political messages posted on his social media. The musician is facing charges of “publicly inciting hatred and hostility” for tweets shared on 16 April 2017, including ’#WeAreNotSilent’, and potentially faces three years and one month in prison if convicted, reported CNN Turk on 13 February 2018. He is set to face trial on 18 April 2018 for this new charge, this in addition to his next trial date on 23 February 2018 for a second, similar charge.
Freemuse remains concerned about the arbitrary charges presented against the musician and calls on the Turkish government to drop all the charges against Tunç.
“This indictment filed against Ferhat Tunç illustrates the protracted culture of silencing artists in Turkey, especially those who make political commentary through social media. Citizens in Turkey have the inalienable right to freedom of artistic and political expression, yet the arbitrary charges facing Mr Tunç violate these. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a responsibility to his citizenry to uphold such rights according to the international standards Turkey has signed on to, and should drop all the charges against Mr Tunç,” Freemuse Executive Director Dr Srirak Plipat said.
In his over 30-year career as a musician, Tunç has been the target of numerous investigations and cases against him either because of his music or political expressions. The most recent indictment follows a case filed in November 2017 by President Erdoğan that charged the musician with “insulting the President” through messages shared on his social media in 2016, reported the Turkey Telegraph. Tunç will stand trial on 23 February 2018 and if convicted faces up to five years imprisonment.
Prior to this, a separate case against the musician from November 2017 was adjourned until 23 March 2018, with Tunç accused of “propaganda for a terrorist organization” for messages shared on his social media in December 2016, reported Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet. If convicted, Tunc faces up to six years imprisonment.
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