ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - A Turkish prosecutor's office in the Kurdish city of Mardin banned a poem the opposition Pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas recently wrote in prison, allegedly because it contained "terrorist propaganda."
Police in Mardin's northern Dargecit district raided Tuesday the local HDP headquarters and tore down a photograph of Demirtas as well as a banner containing his poem "Contagious Courage," he penned in Turkish.
According to a report by the local Kurdish news agency Dihaber, the police who briefly arrested and interrogated HDP's Dargecit co-head Yasin Turan told him the poem was now banned.
Similarly, in Mardin's central district police went to HDP's provincial headquarters and told party officials that Demirtas's poem was banned per a decision by the public prosecutor.
Only verbal notification was made, as police said they would present a written order later.
In a Wednesday statement on its website, HDP slammed the ban on the poem, saying it was a grave violation of free speech.
HDP lawmaker Ahmet Yildirim protested the authorities at the Parliament, called it "arbitrary" then read it aloud to the Speaker and other MPs.
Yildirim reminded of the four months imprisonment in 1999 of a then Istanbul mayor, today's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for reading in public an Islamic poem.
Police arrested Demirtas along HDP's other co-leader Figen Yuksekdag and a dozen of the party’s lawmakers in November 2016.
In February, a court in Istanbul sentenced Demirtas to five months of imprisonment for “insulting the Turkish nation, the Republic of Turkey, and its institutions,” in his 2015 campaign speeches.
An English translation of the poem Demirtas wrote in the supermax prison in the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne is as follows:
They will say, let there be no voice
Let there be no color, they will say.
You have rebelled by laughter*
'Let no roses* bloom,' they will say
Let us laugh then.
Don't let your rebellion become an orphan
A crime? So be it.
Don't let your laughter fade.
They will say let there be no sunrise
They will hold Hope at gunpoint
You have rebelled, running
They will put the blame on you,
Let us run then.
Don't let your rebellion become lonely
A crime? So be it.
Don't drain me out of patience.
*The word "gül" in Turkish is a homophone, thus may mean both "rose" and "to laugh."
Editing by Ava Homa