Singer jailed for Kurdistan lyric

The singer of Kurdish rock group Koma Rosîda, known by the single name Jiyan, has been detained for using the word “Kurdistan” during a performance at an electoral event for the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP), news site T24 reports.

Jiyan was detained for her performance at the HDP rally in Ağrı in eastern Turkey, alongside presenter Ali Ümran Daşkaya for using the term “martyrs for democracy.”

The singer has been arrested and charged with “creating propaganda for a terrorist organisation,” and is currently held in a prison in Patnos, a town in Ağrı province.

The existence of a place named Kurdistan has historically been a highly contention issue in the Turkish Republic, where Kurdish language and identity rights have been outlawed during periods of the country’s long struggle with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which began an armed struggle for Kurdish self-rule in 1984.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan himself used the term “Kurdistan” during a rally in Diyarbakır, the most populous city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, in the midst of a peace process between the Justice and Devleopment Party (AKP) government and the PKK.

Times, however, have changed since then, with a resumption of the conflict in 2015 and the ruling party’s alliance with ultranationalist political circles precipitating a fresh crackdown on members of the Kurdish political movement.

Most visibly affected by this has been the HDP, with several ranking members of the party’s leadership and deputies have been jailed accused of making propaganda for the PKK.

On Tuesday HDP deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu was arrested on the same charges related to social media posts, facing a possible five-year sentence.