Turkey: Ferhat Tunç’s prison sentence turned into speaking ban

On 27 June 2012, Dersim Malatya Third High Criminal Court sentenced singer Ferhat Tunç to two years in prison for having promoted İbrahim Kaypakkaya in a speech he held on 1 May 2011. According to new legal rearrangements, the sentence has now been turned into a three year ban on speaking about the same subject.

The case was filed against Ferhat Tunç for having said: “I salute you in the revolutionary spirit of Deniz Gezmiş, Mahir Çayan, İbrahim Kaypakkaya, et al,” while he was performing at a concert on 1 May 2011.

Ferhat Tunç’s comment to the verdict is that this is putting ideas under ransom and that it means he won’t be able to express himself for three years: “The court has decided to put me in an open prison instead of incarcerating me in a cell. I do not care paying any price. Whatever it is decided, I will carry on expressing myself, telling the facts and the truth, voicing peace and fraternity. Threats and pressure of this kind I will not heed,” the singer was quoted as saying by the Turkish freedom of expression organisation Antenna-tr.org.

“If Ferhat Tunç commits an offense to the ban, the case will be reopened and he will be imprisoned,” wrote Antenna-tr.org in its newsletter, ‘Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin’.

Freemuse Executive Director Marie Korpe shared his view and had the following comment on the verdict:

“This is another absurd verdict coming out from Turkey. It is a ‘rubber stamp’ for authorities to interpret any statement from Tunç as a violation. Turkey has lost many cases in the European Court of Human Rights, and it is about time the country respects its obligations to the international conventions on free speech.”

Freemuse is dedicated in its long term advocacy for the rights of Ferhat Tunç and other Turkish artists’ rights to dissent.

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