7-year sentence requested for whistling Kurdish song
A group of students at Dicle University in the Turkish city of Diyarbakır are facing possible sentences ranging from over seven to 28 years on terrorism charges, the Turkish news site T24 reports.
The 12 students are accused of committing crimes ranging from “spreading propaganda for a terrorist organisation” to “committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organisation” while participating in a rally during the traditional celebration of Nevruz, which marks the start of the new year in mid-March.
The prosecution claims that the Nevruz rally was the scene of “threats and calls to violence,” and the terrorist organisation the students are accused of colluding with is likely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that has been in armed conflict with Turkish armed for decades, since launching an insurrection aimed at Kurdish independence in the 1980s.
One of the students, identified in the article as Suat Mustafa Ş., has been accused of “making terrorist propaganda” for whistling a Kurdish song during the Nevruz rally, according to T24’s report.
“As I was passing the scene of the incident, a person wearing civilian clothes approached me, told me he were from the police, took me by the arm and told me to come with him. I asked to see identification but wasn’t shown any,” said the student.
“Then four or five police officers came to take me away. I wasn’t whistling any (PKK) song provocatively in any police officers's faces. I was whistling a song by a Kurdish artist.”
A video reportedly taken at the scene appears to corroborate this version of events.
The incident comes during a severe crackdown on Kurdish political activity by the Turkish authorities, which has seen a number of Kurdish politicians and members of parliament jailed.
The students’ trials are set to begin this month, according to T24’s news.