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Artist given prison sentence for performing Kurdish song

(BIANET/IFEX) - A court in Diyarbakır in the south-eastern region of Turkey has handed down a prison sentence of one year and eight months to Kurdish artist Rojda. The charges stem from the singer's performance of the song "Heval Kamuran" ('Comrade Kamuran') at an arts festival in Diyarbakır in May 2009. She was charged with "spreading propaganda for an illegal organization".

Rojda is one of 160 artists who were invited to a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on 20 February to discuss the Kurdish question. However, she had previously announced that she would not attend the meeting.

The Diyarbakır Prosecutor's Office summoned Rojda on 11 February on allegations of "propaganda for an illegal organization". The Diyarbakır 4th High Criminal Court decided her case on 25 March.

Rojda did not attend the hearing. The prosecutor noted in his final submission, "Rojda performed the song 'Heval Kamuran' at two different concerts at last year's Diyarbakır Culture and Arts Festival. During the performances, some people in the audience displayed banners of the PPK [militant Kurdistan Workers' Party] and Abdullah Öcalan [imprisoned leader of the PKK] and shouted slogans."

The prosecutor quoted both the Kurdish and the Turkish lyrics of the song and demanded a five-year prison sentence under article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Act on "spreading propaganda for a terrorist organization".

The court accepted the charges and sentenced the singer to two years' imprisonment. The sentence was mitigated to one year and eight months due to the "good conduct" of the defendant.

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