Turkish court sentences Kurdish author to 37 months over writings

Fuat Onen was charged with "terror propaganda" due to his support of Kurdistan's statehood and display of Kurdish flag on social media.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s judicial authorities sentenced over the weekend one of the country’s prominent Kurdish political authors, Fuat Onen, to three years and one month of imprisonment for his writings and social media posts over the years in support of Kurdistan’s independence.

A heavy penal court in Istanbul agreed with prosecutors that the Kurdish province Mardin-based Onen’s work and his frequent displays of the Kurdistan flag on his social media pictures amounted to “terror propaganda” for the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its civilian umbrella organization Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK).

Speaking over the phone with Kurdistan 24 on Monday, Onen said the decision against him was “unlawful and meant to force Kurdistanis to keep silent” as courts “acted in line with orders from the executive.”

“They want silence. They want all Kurdistanis to keep their mouth shut. And they know I have nothing to do with the KCK,” Onen, a long-time campaigner for Kurdish statehood, said.

“Now, others are afraid of writing their views about Kurdistan,” he added. “The funny thing is KCK rejects Kurdistan’s independence and flag.”

Onen is known for his criticism of the PKK over the group’s rejection of a unified, independent Kurdistan straddling along the Kurdish lands divided between Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria.

He explained that among the charges Turkish prosecutors brought against him were his defense of the Kurdistan Region’s 2017 independence referendum, his use of the Kurdistan flag in his profile picture on the social media network Facebook, and his articles on a series of meetings in 2013 between Kurdish parties from the four countries to form a national congress.

“The court also alleged that my condemnation of the massacres in Roboski and Paris were terror propaganda,” he added.

The first massacre Onen referred to was an air assault by the Turkish warplanes in 2011 that killed 34 civilians, 17 of them children, in Sirnak province’s Roboski village on the border with the Kurdistan Region.

The second one in Paris was the assassination in 2013 of three female Kurdish political activists, including Sakine Cansiz, a PKK co-founder, suspected to have been carried out by the Turkish intelligence.

Onen was previously sentenced to 13 months in 2008 by a court in the Urfa province again for his writings. However, that jail term was indefinitely delayed on condition of “not repeating the offense.”

The latest decision means Onen (65) will have to serve prison time. His lawyers have taken the case to a higher court, but the author said he did not expect judicial authorities to overturn the sentence, although his remarks fall within freedom of expression.

Onen’s nephew Bilind Onen was one of the two killed by a remote-controlled car bomb that the self-proclaimed Islamic State affiliates detonated across the US Consulate in Erbil on April 17, 2015.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany