Turkish court rules for pretrial detention of award-winning Kurdish film director on terror charges

A Turkish court has ruled for the pretrial detention of Kurdish film director Gıyasettin Şehir, who was awarded the best director prize at the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, according to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF) on Saturday.

Şehir was reportedly taken into custody by police following a raid on his flat in Diyarbakır province on September 25. He was referred to court after procedures at a police station with a demand by the prosecutor’s office for his arrest on charges of alleged membership in an illegal organization. After appearing in court, Şehir was ordered to pretrial detention and sent to Diyarbakır D-Type Prison.

Şehir was awarded the Best Director prize at 48th International Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival in 2011 for his film “Meş” (The Walk), a movie recounting the lives of ordinary people trapped in the Kurdish city of Nusaybin under the rule of a Turkish military junta that seized power and its brutal crackdown in the 1980s.

Şehir is also a founding member of the Dicle-Fırat Kültür Sanat Merkezi (Tigris-Euphrates Culture and Arts Center) where he lectured hundreds of students on cinema, theater and modern dance for years. The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shut down the center along with hundreds of other Kurdish civil associations in 2016 in the months following a controversial coup attempt on July 15.

Şehir’s detention and trial come after another court in İstanbul sentenced German-Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç to almost two years in prison. Tunç’s “crime” was for voicing support on social media for the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.

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