Turkish police detain Kurdish singer for using ‘Kurdistan’ in song lyrics

The singer of Kurdish rock group Koma Rosîda, known commonly as Jiyan, has been detained by Turkish police for using the word “Kurdistan” during a performance at an electoral event for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), according to a report by online news outlet T24 on Tuesday.

Jiyan was detained for her performance at an HDP rally in Ağrı province in eastern Turkey along with presenter Ali Ümran Daşkaya, who used the phrase “martyrs for democracy.”

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

Moreover, Turkish prosecutors in Ankara have produced a charge sheet for Sezgin Tanrıkulu,  a deputy of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), accusing him of spreading propaganda for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The charges directed at Tanrıkulu related to a photograph of PKK members shared on Twitter with a caption saying their human rights had been violated and to two counts of sharing posts opposing the Turkish military operation in Afrin province in Syria earlier this year. Tanrıkulu faces a sentence of between one and five years in prison if convicted.

Tanrıkulu cannot be tried without a formal lifting of his parliamentary immunity while still a member of parliament, but the present Justice and Development Party (AKP)-dominated parliament has removed the immunity of a number of other Kurdish politicians.

The existence of a place named Kurdistan has historically been a highly contentious issue in the Turkish Republic, where Kurdish language and identity rights have been outlawed during periods of the country’s long struggle with the PKK since 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 AKP government and the PKK.

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