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Folk musician charged with "praising a criminal and criminal activities"

(BIANET/IFEX) - Turkish folk music artist Pinar Sag is facing a prison term of up to a total of four years for allegedly praising leftist revolutionary Ibrahim Kaypakkaya and for criticizing the killing of 17 people by security forces. In a hearing on 15 September 2010, Sag said in her defence: "I advocated for peace."

Sag is being tried for saying the following at the Düzgün Baba Festival in the Nazimiye district of Tunceli (eastern Anatolia) in 2009: "Let the armed conflicts on our mountains end, peace should come and nobody should die. Seventeen young unarmed people were killed in the Mercan Mountains. This war should finally end. Let us be allowed to move freely in our homeland, let peace come to this land." The Nazimiye Public Prosecutor pressed charges of "praising crime and a criminal" against the artist.

Sag is facing time in prison under Article 215 of the Turkish Criminal Law. She attended a hearing at the Nazimiye Criminal Court of First Instance together with her lawyer. She claimed that it should not be a crime to advocate for peace in Turkey and to call for harmony.

"We expressed that, as human beings and with the sensitivity of an artist, we would not approve any deaths in the land we live in. Seventeen people were killed in the Mercan Mountains and there was no documentation or any other proof of their being guilty of anything. This is the defence I made. I advocated for peace in the concert," the musician explained.

Sag is being tried on the same charges for a speech delivered at a concert in the course of a meeting for Murat Kur, then an independent mayoral candidate in the run-up to local elections on 29 March 2009. She is also on trial at the Tunceli Magistrate Criminal Court on allegations of having praised Ibrahim Kaypakkaya, the founder of the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist Leninist (TKP/ML). She gave a statement at the Sisli (Istanbul) courthouse in the beginning of May 2010. Kaypakkaya was injured in an armed conflict with the security forces in 1973. He was arrested and taken to the Diyarbakir Prison, where he died after being tortured.

Sag had indicated that there was no evidence of Kaypakkaya's guilt. "I thought that if the suspects in the murder of (leftist revolutionary) Deniz Gezmis apologized today, then starting from this idea Kaypakkaya would not be guilty, because there was no prosecution resulting in a conviction and the legal situation does not require an acceptance of guilt. Saying that the guilt of Kaypakkaya cannot be accepted does not mean that I am praising a criminal," Sag argued.

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