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Singer sentenced to two years in prison

(BIANET/IFEX) - A special court in the province of Malatya sentenced Kurdish-Alevi singer Ferhat Tunc to two years in prison on terrorism-related charges because he referred to three deceased Turkish leftists in a speech that he gave in May 2011.

The decision was unexpected and politically motivated, Tunc told BIANET. Lawyer Ercan Kanar, who represents Tunc in court, said the court also convicted his client on the claim that he was making propaganda for the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) because of a reference he made to Ibrahim Kaypakkaya during the speech.

Tunc said his statements ought to be regarded as freedom of speech. Such a verdict represents a worrying development for democracy and freedoms in Turkey right at a time when the status of special courts has come under question, he added.

“I was invited to the festivities in Dersim (Tunceli) on May 1 last year as an independent deputy candidate of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP.) I was put on trial because I had said 'I greet you all in the revolutionary spirit of Deniz Gezmis, Mahir Cayan and Ibrahim Kaypakkaya,' during the speech I delivered there. Based on this statement, [authorities] then claimed I was making propaganda on behalf of the Maoist Communist Party (MKP) without being a member of it,” Tunc said.

The court's verdict has smothered universal principles of law, according to Kanar. The decision also demonstrated the extent that freedoms of thought and expression have been dismantled under fire by way of special courts, he said.

“This verdict goes to show that Turkey is almost revisiting the state of emergency in the 1990s and the period of martial law in the 1980s,” Kanar said. They were going to appeal the decision to Turkey's Supreme Court of Appeals, he said. If the Supreme Court of Appeals also ratifies the verdict, however, then the defendant party will bring the case before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR,) lawyer Kanar added.

Kanar said they were certain the ECHR would convict Turkey as in previous cases, as the court issued the verdict solely because of Tunc's invocation of Ibrahim Kaypakkaya's name.
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