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Singer sentenced to 10 months in prison for statements made at concert

(BIANET/IFEX) - 6 July 2010 - Singer Cevdet Bağca was sentenced to 10 months in prison for saying "Do not forget Kazım Koyuncu, Ahmet Kaya, Ozan Serhat and Delila. Do not forget Uğur Kaymaz", in a concert performed in the southeastern city of Siirt.

Bağca had delivered a brief speech at the concert in Siirt on 29 September 2009. The opinions he voiced were recorded by the police as they were considered to be "sympathizing with an illegal organization and spreading propaganda about a member of the organization". The police records were presented as evidence as well as footage and photographs taken by the police.

The decision was made by the Diyarbakır 5th High Criminal Court on 29 June 2010 but communicated only recently.

"The court was established with the aim of punishing. We presented to the court CDs of Ozan Serhat and Delila that were approved by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, but they were not taken into account. We are reading the works of these artists in Turkey. No matter how they lost their lives, these people are artists", Bağca stated.

"This is like a joke. How can an expert committee be made up of special operation police officers?" Bağca added, referring to the Democratic Initiative put forward by the government.

The DİHA news agency reported that according to the official police report, Bağca praised Koyuncu and Kaya, two persons who allegedly sympathized with the PKK/KONGRA-GEL organization (the militant Kurdistan Workers Party) and spread propaganda for the terror organization. It was furthermore claimed in the report that he praised Serhat and Delila, supposed PKK/KONGRA-GEL members who were killed in operations in rural areas. Bağca allegedly praised both people who were killed in conflicts between armed members of the organization and the armed forces, the police report continued. By doing so, Bağca "spread propaganda for an illegal organization", the report determined.

The report further referred to Serhat and Delila not as artists but as "members of an illegal organization".

Koyuncu is a musician from the Laz region on the eastern Black Sea Coast. Kaya became the target of a lynch attack after he said, "I will produce a Kurdish song and I know that there are people brave enough to publish it". He later left Turkey and went to Paris where he passed away.

Numerous music festivals in the Black Sea region were organized in the name of Koyuncu, as well as a festival on 3 July by the Republican People's Party (CHP) in the Karabağlar District Municipality in Izmir. The description of Koyuncu as a "sympathizer of the PKK" led to harsh criticisms of the police report.

Twelve year-old Uğur Kaymaz, who was also mentioned by Bağca in his speech, was killed together with his father on 21 November 2004 in the province of Mardin because they were alleged members of the People's Defence Forces (HPG), the armed wing of the PKK. Bağca's words not to forget Kaymaz were also assessed as "propaganda for an illegal organization" in the report.

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