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Singer accused of spreading terrorist propaganda

(BIANET/IFEX) - Singer Ferhat Tunc is facing charges for having called for peace, and for reminding people that members of the illegal pro-Kurdish guerilla group PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) and the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) who die are also "children of this country."

At a concert in Alanya (Antalya district, southern Turkey) on 22 July 2006, Tunc said, "Just as every soldier who dies in this country is counted as a child of this country, so every guerrilla who is killed is a child of this country. My heart burns for every dead soldier, my heart bleeds for every dead guerrilla."

Tunc is being tried under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for this comment, and is due to appear in court on 4 October 2007 at the Izmir 10th Penal Court.

In addition, the Malatya Public Prosecutor's Office has launched an investigation against the singer for "spreading propaganda for the MKP". At a 12 August 2006 concert, Tunc dedicated a song to "the 17", referring to an event during which 17 revolutionary fighters were killed. The fact that members of the audience chanted "Dersim (former name of Tunceli province) is proud of you" has been interpreted as proof of his crime. (In the 1930s, the government changed the name of the Dersim region to Tunceli, although some locals still refer to it as Dersim.)

Giving a statement at the Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office, Tunc said that at the first concert he was expressing his opinion that the people of Turkey should coexist peacefully. Referring to the "17", he said that he had known since their childhood most of the MKP members who had been killed in the Mercan Valley (in Tunceli province) in 2004, and that he was not able to ignore the event. When he expressed his feelings about the gravity of the event in his song, his aim was not to spread propaganda, Tunc argued.

At the second concert, the singer had said, "We have to overcome and destroy the fears that are imposed on us. There are conflicts in our country, there are deaths. In order to oppose them, we first have to overcome our fears. We want to sing our peace songs on our own land, without fear, without worry. For that to happen, the conflict has to end and we have to work towards that with all our efforts. Let us all say 'no' to war." Then he sang his song entitled, "No to war".

Tunc is also being tried for being part of a human rights delegation that freed Private Coskun Kirandi after he had been kidnapped by the PKK. He has also received death threats by a group calling itself the "Turkish Revenge Brigade" (TIT).

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