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Kurdish singer sentenced to one year in prison

(BIANET/IFEX) - Raziye Kizil, President of the Komela Jinen Dengbej (KJD) Women Dengbejler House, is facing two trials against her for singing Kurdish folk songs. As reported on 10 October, Kizil, also known as Gazin, has already been sentenced to one year in prison in the first case, and faces an additional five years in prison if convicted in the second case.

On 7 February 2010, Kizil sang the songs "Megri" ('Don't Cry') and "Lo Lawo" upon request at the Dengbejler Council held at the Tatvan Municipality Culture Centre (south-eastern Turkey). The event was recorded on video by the police.

The Tatvan Police put forward that in these two songs, Kizil praised two members of an illegal organization who were named Mesut and Mustafa and who were killed in armed conflicts on the Gabar Mountain. The police filed a criminal complaint with the Tatvan Public Prosecution because an "element of crime" had allegedly been committed.

The prosecution based its opinion on the footage of the police CD and sent the file to the Van 3rd High Criminal Court with the request to open a case against the singer.

The court assessed the Tatvan Public Prosecution's evaluation of the CD and the photographs taken during the event as evidence. Based on Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMY), Kizil was sentenced to imprisonment of one year on charges of "making propaganda for an illegal organization".

In a statement made to BIANET, Kizil said that the police made mistakes in the translation of the lyrics. She pointed out that the words "Gabar" and "Mesut" as mentioned by the police did not occur in the songs.

"This song is about two students called Mustafa and Mahsun who were killed in the course of the Amara demonstration in 2009 as the result of the military intervention. The word 'Amara' was translated as 'Gabar'. The name 'Mahsun' was translated as 'Mesut'. And these two people were depicted [in the translation] as terrorists killed at 'Gabar'. However, the court did not even take my defence seriously. They gave me a one-year punishment based on the wrong lyrics as translated by the police," Kizil claimed.

Kizil referred to TRT 6, a state television channel broadcasting in Kurdish, and criticized the fact that people like her are still being punished for Kurdish songs.

"Turkey has to overcome this. What are they trying to do? What we are saying is just a piece of music. In any case, what is the benefit for the country to open a case based on false translations? It is impossible to understand this anti-democratic application against a local artist like me while TRT 6 is broadcasting in Kurdish. I wish we did not have these issues in this country any more. These trials are sad for all of us. We are artists. It does not matter if you are a Turk, a Kurd, a Laz or a Circassian – everybody should be able to sing songs freely in their mother language. It cannot be a crime to sing a folk song", Kizil stated.

Kizil is facing another five-year sentence in the scope of a trial based on a song she sang at the Newroz festival in Ercis/Van in 2010. She is being tried before the Ercis High Criminal Court under allegations of "singing a song with separatist contents".

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