Turkish prosecutor charges Kurdish singer Tunç with alleged insult of President Erdoğan

A Turkish prosecutor in İstanbul has charged Kurdish singer Ferhat Tunç with insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

According to a report by the pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency (ANF), the Büyüçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office drafted an indictment against Tunç for his critical tweets. The indictment listed President Erdogan as the injured party and accuses Tunc of insulting him. The indictment was reportedly accepted by the Büyükçekmece 7th Criminal Court of General Jurisdiction.

Some of the tweets posted by Tunç on his personal account included in the indictment are as follows:

“Latin American caricaturist Carlos Latuff said with his art what the whole world sees in the Jarablus Operation.”

“How can a man who is known in the world as disreputable and a remorseless dictator in his own country be #DünyayıTitretenAdamRTE [“Erdoğan The Man Who Shook The World”]?”

“As if… The millions who voted for the HDP [pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party] have enough dignity that they won’t bow down to the dictator you bend over backward for.”

“This is the atrocity Dictator Erdoğan and his government think Nusaybin deserves, not an image from World War II!!!”

Speaking to ANF, Tunç said: “I learned from my lawyers that there are two new cases against me, for insulting President Erdogan and the then-Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in tweets from 2016. I believe they will continue to file lawsuits over my tweets from previous years.”

“Of course I have the right to criticize anybody who does wrong in this country, even if they are the president,” Tunç said and added: “But unfortunately, these are dark times when expressing your ideas is not considered a right. They have no tolerance for even the slightest criticism.”

“I have been made the target in a hostile approach, to be honest. I believe this is related to my sensitivity in matters of fundamental rights and freedoms. The courts are used in this country as authorities to silence people and to make them surrender,” said Tunç.

Hundreds of people in Turkey, including even high school students, face charges of insulting President Erdoğan. The slightest criticism is considered an insult, and there has been a rise in the number of cases in which people inform on others claiming that they insulted the president, the government or government officials.

According to the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) insulting the president carries a sentence of between one and four years.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on July 21, police teams under the command of the cybercrime unit have determined the existence of 126,000 social media accounts related to alleged terrorist organizations in the last two years.

The report said about 50,000 out of 68,000 profiled social media accounts that allegedly posted pro-coup messages in the wake of a coup bid in July 2016 belong to alleged members of the Gülen movement.

According to the report, 17,000 of the social media accounts are allegedly linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), while a thousand of them are said to be connected to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

It was also claimed that 60 percent of social media posts believed to be supportive of “terrorist organizations” have been made by alleged members of the Gülen movement. The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has labeled the pacifist Gülen movement as a “terrorist organization,” calling it “FETÖ.”

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