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Turkey: Singer jailed for six years on terrorism charge

16 November 2018
Prior to the 2018 Turkish elections, two singers were arrested and charged within days of one another due to claims of alleged terrorist activities. 
Photo: Jiyan / The Women’s Revolution in Rojava Facebook (Left) ; Hozan Cane / Twitter (Right)

 

16 November 2018

UPDATE: Singer Hozan Cane jailed for six years and three months

On 14 November 2018, a Turkish court sentenced German-Kurdish singer Hozan Cane to six years and three months in jail for “being a member in a terrorist organisation”, reported Kurdistan24.

“I am not a member of any organisation. I am merely an artist doing art,” she said, according to Kurdistan 24 Turkey.

Prosecutors had also accused the singer of “inciting public hatred and enmity” by disseminating propaganda via social media on behalf of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The post in question showed Cane posing with alleged Kurdish rebels. According to the singer, the image was from her movie The 74th Genocide in Sinjar.

Cane, who is currently jailed in Istanbul, rejected both charges via audiovisual link at the Edirne 3rd Heavy Penal Court on 14 November, reported ANF News.

 

20 July 2018

Turkey: Two singers arrested on terrorism charges

Prior to the June 2018 Turkish parliamentary and presidential elections, singers Hozan Cane (also known as Saide Inac) and Jiyan were arrested and charged by Turkish officials within a few days of one another due to claims of alleged terrorist activities. 

On 22 June 2018, Cane, a German citizen of Kurdish heritage, was taken into custody in the city of Edirne by Turkish officials while attending campaign events for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), reported popular Kurdish online newspaper Kurdistan24.

The singer was set to perform for HDP supporters just days leading up to Turkey’s parliamentary and presidential elections. She has since been charged with possessing a “membership in a terrorist organization”, wrote Deutsche Welle

The charge stems from claims perpetuated by the Turkish government that some HDP supporters, such as Cane, are allied with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Marxist-Leninist group formed in the late 1970s that launched an armed struggled against the Turkish government in 1984, calling for an Independent Kurdish state within Turkey. In the 1990s, these demands shifted into a request that Kurds would simply enjoy more autonomy while living within the boundaries of Turkey, explained BBC.

The HDP’s rumoured ties to PKK has also been fueled by the Turkish government’s decision to charge the party’s former co-leader and 2018 presidential nominee, Selahattin Demirtas, with maintaining connections to PKK. Demirtas’s combined indictments could result in over a 100-year sentence. In an opinion piece penned for The Guardian, the popular politician insists that the accusations held against him are false and are merely being used to prevent him from campaigning against the country’s authoritarian practices.

Turkish prosecutors have also alleged that Cane is guilty of promoting PKK propaganda on her social media, referencing a photo she posted in which she is shown happily posing with supposed Kurdish rebels. However, the image in question appears to be a behind-the-scenes photo of the artist’s film The 74th Genocide in Sinjar, which focuses on Kurdish efforts in Iraq, according to Kurdistan24.

Fellow singer arrested days before
Singer Jiyan, lead vocalist for the band Koma Rosîda, was also detained and charged after a performance on 19 June 2018, just four days before Cane’s arrest. Jiyan allegedly performed a song that included the word “Kurdistan” in the lyrics. Turkish authorities deemed the lyrics to be pro-Kurdish propaganda, and as such, terror related, reported Turkish online independent newspaper T24.

Jiyan is currently being held at a prison in Patnos as she awaits trial, noted Kurdistan24

Cane’s and Jiyan’s arrests are two of the latest cases in the lineup of artists that the Turkish government has attempted to silence. Most recently, on 12 July, Turkish actress and singer Zuhal Olcay received a suspended jail sentence of 11 months and 20 days for “insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan” during a performance almost two years ago.

Similarly, on 5 June 2018, prominent Turkish cartoonist Nuri Kurtcebe was granted conditional release by a Turkish court in lieu of his fourteen-month imprisonment for also insulting the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in his drawings published in 2015. Only one month prior, Turkish anti-narcotics police detained rappers Ezhel (real name Ömer Sercan İpekçioğlu), Khontkar (real name of Onur Dinç) and Young Bego within days of each other in late May 2018, accusing them of promoting drug use through their lyrics. Though Ezhel was acquitted on 19 June, the charges against Khontkar and Young Bego are still pending.

Cane’s German citizenship also calls to mind Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appeal to ban German comedian Jan Böhmermann’s poem due to claims of insult and mockery, which the Hamburg Higher Court dismissed on 15 May 2018.

According to Freemuse’s The State of Artistic Freedom Report 2018, Turkish government authorities continue to severely limit expression across all art forms through censorship and imprisonments, using political reasons, such as “criticizing or opposing the government”, “spreading propaganda” or “insulting the president”. In fact, out of the 74% of documented cases regarding censorship in 2017, 68% of them were carried out by Turkish officials.

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