Three Turkish Citizens Face Prison for Pro-Kurdish Stance

Ismail Besikci

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)—An academic and an editor-in-chief are facing prison time for alleged propaganda supporting a terrorist organization in an article, while a prominent musician has been given the same charge for a speech regarding the Kurdish issue.

Due to a recent article entitled “The national self-determination and Kurds,” published in the journal, the Law and Society in Our Time by the Istanbul branch of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (CHD), Ismail Besikci and the editor-in-chief of the journal, Zeytan Balci, could face between two and a half to seven years in prison for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization,” daily Taraf reported Thursday.

Besikci, who previously spent 17 years in prison due to his ideas concerning the Kurdish issue, appeared before a judge Wednesday for the latest article.

During the hearing at the Istanbul 11th High Criminal Court Besikci said that the Kurdish issue was Turkey’s most significant problem.

“The prime minister says today that denying politics is not valid anymore. Nevertheless, the depth of the issue is not analyzed. Today, heated debates have been experienced regarding the Kurdish issue,” he said.

“Discussions on how it can be solved are taking place in the press. However, the problem itself should be talked about,” he said. “Why has it arrived to our day without being solved? The article in the magazine is about what the Kurdish issue is, the content of the problem, the explanation of thoughts and a critique of Kurdish political life.”

The writer’s lawyer, Leven Kanat, said Besikci was an academic who had published around thirty books and drew attention to a statement from an “illegal armed terrorist organization” in the criminal charges, but added that the name of the organization was not stated.

“The name of the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] is used only once in the 45-paragraph-long article. Is this propaganda for an organization? Ismail Besikci made an investigation in his article. However, the Prosecutor’s Office evaluated this as propaganda,” said Kanat. After the lawyer’s defense, the case was postponed until a further date.

Meanwhile, musician Ferhat Tunc, who was investigated because of a speech he made during the First Eruh-Cirav Nature and Culture Art Festival, is also being tried, Anatolia news agency reported Wednesday.

Tunc faces up to 15 years in prison for “committing an illegal act without being an organization member and making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”

At the trial in Diyarbakir’s 4th High Criminal Court, Tunc presented a seven page written defense.

“It’s not hard to see that these accusations are outside of the law because the perception of crime and punishment are shaped by traditions of the mind,” said Tunc.

Indicating that the defense was “not related with the compendium of the claim,” the judge asked whether the allegations and the speech cited in the charge belonged to him.

Tunc responded positively, but his lawyer said the written terms in the criminal charges did not constitute a crime.

Because of this argument, his lawyer demanded Tunc’s acquittal; the court, however, postponed the case pending a review of the trial.


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