Sixty-year-old imam Ali Akdağ has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for performing funeral prayers in the Beytüşşebap district of Şırnak (Şirnex). His daughter Sabuha said, “They asked ‘Why did you perform a funeral prayer?’ They consider it a crime for my father to fulfill his religious duties”.
According to Zeynep Durgut’s report for the Mesopotamia Agency (MA), Ali Akdağ was arrested on June 2019 on the grounds that he performed funeral prayers for members of the People’s Defense Units (HPG) and for his participation in city assembly.
Şırnak 3rd High Penal Court sentenced Akdağ to six years and three months in prison on the charge of organisation membership, participating in city assembly and for another case. He was also sentenced to one year and three months in prison for performing funeral prayers for HPG members and propagandising on behalf of an organisation.
Akdağ’s lawyers filed an appeal to Diyarbakır (Amed) Regional Courts of Justice against the penalty. The court rejected the appeal and upheld the decision. Lawyers then appealed to the Supreme Court.
‘He only fulfilled his religious duty’
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Şırnak Province co-chair and Akdağ’s daughter, Sabuha Akdağ, who is imprisoned in the Şırnak T-type Closed Prison, said her father has heart and blood pressure problems. Stating that her father was arrested for fulfilling an imam’s tasks, Sabuha said her father had never discriminated between any funerals, adding that her father performed funeral prayers for HPG members and also for soldiers who died during clashes.
Noting that her father was innocent, she said, “They asked, ‘Why did you perform a funeral prayer?’ He was an imam. He did his job. No matter for whom, he did his job. They consider it a crime that my father acted in accordance with his religious duties. That is not normal. My father should be released immediately. A person with high blood pressure and cardiac issues cannot stay in prison under pandemic conditions. He is sentenced to seven years in prison for performing a funeral prayer. Did he kill anyone?”