A Turkish court has sentenced poet Ahmet Telli to 10 months in prison on Tuesday due to his participation in a press release and recitation of a poem from his own book in 2017, MLSA Turkey reported. The sentence has been suspended.
Telli was accused of “terrorist propaganda” over his speech and reading poems from his book in the 2017 meeting. The prosecutor had requested a prison sentence of up to eight years for the poet.
In his defence against the closing statement, Telli stated that he participated in the press release with the responsibility of an intellectual. He also emphasised that the poem which was categorised as “terrorist propaganda” by the prosecution, was from his book “Let the Fighters Speak” (Dövüşen Anlatsın) and that the book has reached its 26th edition in Turkey.
The case stemmed from Telli’s involvement in a press release held on 11 May 2017, in Ankara, following the death of Ulaş Bayraktaroğlu, a member of the central executive board of the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP).
Bayraktaroğlu lost his life in Raqqa, northern Syria, while fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the Islamic State (ISIS). Previously arrested during the Gezi Park Protests in June 2013, Bayraktaroğlu joined the struggle against ISIS in northern Syria after his release in March 2014.
Similar charges were filed against 75 individuals who participated in the press release, but no convictions were handed down due to lack of evidence, according to Umut Vedat Acar, Telli’s lawyer.
During the press release, Telli said, “Friends, friends, for months, for years, we echoed these streets, these avenues with the slogan ‘Long live the fraternity of peoples’. Ulaş Bayraktaroğlu showed us how the fraternity of peoples can be achieved. This brotherhood will be won through struggle.”
Accompanying his statement, Telli recited a poem:
“In our hands, the amber rosary of pain
slipping away from our fingers
once again you told it in fragments
once again you left things unfinished
the day is passing, but you haven’t
kept track of our pain
Be silent now,
let someone else tell the rest to us,
open your faded leafed notebook
and read the shattered story
of our lives.”