On 11 November 2021, İstanbul 27th Criminal Court sentenced Kurdish musician Veysi Ermiş to one year, six months and 20 days of imprisonment for “doing propaganda for a terrorist organisation” because of the expressions used in his songs, reported Susma24.
The artist’s lawyer İrfan Arasan said they did not accept the allegations and that, “[…] Allegation that the expression ‘Kurdistan’ is a crime and that my client is doing propaganda for Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) by using this word is unacceptable. Kurdistan has existed for thousands of years. It was used way before the PKK. It does not constitute any crime. There are also accusations made for posters that were put up at rallies where he attended and sang. He cannot be blamed for any of these.”
Ermiş is an artist of the Mesopotamia Cultural Center (MKM), a group of intellectuals and artists engaging in the Kurdish cultural scene.
The State of Artistic Freedom 2021 report reveals how Kurdish artists and cultural centres were particularly vulnerable to targeting by state authorities in 2020, facing various obstacles to express themselves artistically for fear of prosecution alongside economic hardships caused by limited opportunities to perform.