Kurdish musician receives jail sentence over social media postings

A Turkish judge gave Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç a one year 11 month and 12 day jail sentence for conducting terror propaganda through his social media postings, Sözcü daily reported.

Tunç, who is from mainly Kurdish-Alevi Dersim in east Turkey, maintains a politically-charged Twitter account with a particular interest in issues affecting Turkey’s Kurdish and Alevi populations, as well as human rights violations.

The Kurdish folk singer appeared in court on Tuesday where he stressed that artists should not censor themselves to please any political party in power.

‘’I am defending the principals of art,’’ Sözcü quoted Tunç as saying. ‘’I am an artist who followed the Kobani process closely. My last album is called Kobani.’’

The Islamic State besieged the mainly Kurdish city of Kobani in late 2014, which lead to  45,000 refugees crossing into Turkey. A number of refugees were stopped at the border and ordered to return to Kobani by Turkish authorities, which caused outrage in Turkey's Kurdish community.

Protests related to Turkish government’s approach in Kobani turned into nation-wide protests in 2014, when Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Kobani was about to fall.

The court found Tunç guilty of conducting propaganda for the armed terror group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its offshoots, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women's Protection Units (YPJ), Sözcü said.

The PKK, an armed group designated as a terrorist organisation by Ankara and its allies,  has been at war in Turkey for autonomy for more than 30 years. The Turkish government recognises YPG and YPJ as extensions of PKK fighting in Syria.