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More than 1,000 people sign petition calling on authorities to drop trial against Kurdish singer

(BIANET/IFEX) - 4 October 2010 - Singer Ferhat Tunc is facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years on the grounds of a speech made at a cultural festival in the south-eastern province of Siirt. The international writers association, International PEN, addressed the prime minister with regard to this case.

On 15 August 2009, Tunc, a Kurdish singer, delivered a speech at the 1st Eruh-Cirav Nature and Culture Arts Festival, in Siirt. He is charged with "spreading propaganda for the PKK organization", the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party, and "committing a crime on behalf of an illegal organization without being a member of the organization" according to article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law (TMK) and article 220/6 of the Turkish Criminal Law (TCK) respectively.

The case against the defendant is being heard at the Diyarbakir 4th High Criminal Court. During a 1 October hearing, his joint attorneys claimed that his speech should be evaluated within the boundaries of freedom of expression and requested their client's acquittal.

The lawyers presented the copy of a letter from the Scandinavian group of International PEN to the court. The group had addressed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with regard to Tunc's prosecution.

The court adjourned the case to 4 November in order to allow time for the gathering of missing documents in the file. Among the people in the audience supporting the singer was writer Sehymus Diken.

During his speech at the cultural festival, Tunc had said:

"After 25 years you are opening a new window to peace and brotherhood from Eruh. I am just as excited as you are to turn this march, that you started on the expense of your lives and your blood, towards peace".

Three hundred and sixty-three intellectuals came together in the "Initiative for Solidarity with Ferhat Tunc" They managed to gather more than one thousand signatures supporting their request to drop the case. The petition was also signed by writer Yasar Kemal, Law Professor Mithat Sancar, journalist Perihan Magden, sociologist Ismail Besikci, Professor Halil Berktay, Irfan Acikgoz, publisher Ragip Zarakolu, Professor Sebnem Korur Fincani, political scientist Haluk Gerger and Sanar Yurdatapan from the Initiative against Thought Crime.

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