A person has been sentenced to three years imprisonment in Turkey for sharing a live video of Kurdish songs being sung on a bus carrying people to the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)’s conference in Ankara in February, Mezopotamya Agency reported.
There have been numerous incidences of Kurdish music being suppressed throughout the years of the Turkish Republic. This latest conviction came in the run-up to major elections in which the HDP are expected to play a crucial role.
An inquiry was initiated into the individual, known only as K.İ., who shared songs being sung in a bus travelling from the south-eastern province of Hatay to the HDP Congress in Ankara on their social media account on 22 February.
The individual was accused of “making organisation propaganda” – the implication being that the organisation in question is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Turkish state regards as a terrorist organisation and persistently implies has links to the HDP.
In their testimony in court, the individual agreed that they had shared a video of the songs being sung by a local musician on the bus on their Facebook account.
But, they said, “I understood the general meaning of the songs, but I didn’t pay attention to the lyrics. I was unaware that they were by way of being propaganda. I didn’t share them with the intent of praising the organisation.”
The individual was sentenced to two years on the charge of “making organisation propaganda”, with the sentence raised to three years because the offence “had been committed by the means of press or broadcast.”
The prosecution noted that the songs contained praise for “the guerrillas, their rebellion and their resistance”, and dismissed the notion that the individual had shared the songs for fun, noting that “they did not stop at making propaganda by broadcasting a live recording, but also posted the video on their profile to stay there available for all to see.”
This is by no means the first time Kurdish music has been penalised. Among numerous recent examples is Yusuf Güneş, who was sentenced to 18 months on the same charges in September.
Opera singer Pervin Chakar was prevented from performing a concert at a university in Mardin (Mêrdîn) due to the Kurdish songs in her repertoire.
Singer Veysi Ermiş was sentenced to 18 months for using the word ‘Kurdistan’ in a song.
A flurry of Kurdish music concert bans imposed earlier in the year prompted a protest in the Turkish parliament.