Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki has been indicted by a Turkish court on “terrorist propaganda” charges for sharing posts on Facebook and Twitter about Turkey’s destruction of Kurdish cities and killing of civilians and militants.
Naki, who plays as a striker and playmaker for Kurdish team Amedspor, in Turkey’s Second League, will face up to five years in prison if found guilty. Amedspor are based in Diyarbakır, the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan.
On September 4 last year, Naki’s official Facebook page shared a post saying: “A thousand greetings to the heroes of Dersim.” It came after two guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish liberation against the Turkish state, were killed in Dersim, Naki's hometown.
In a post on January 4, Naki criticised the military curfew and siege in the predominantly Kurdish town of Cizre. More than 200 civilians were killed in the town by Turkish forces.
Naki shared a photo of a father sitting with the lifeless body of his two children with the caption: “Think of a father who’s two children have been shot and laying next to him lifelessly; he can't even bury them because there is a curfew in Cizre.” (The photo was later revealed to belong to an incident in Palestine.)
In another post after Amedspor’s 2-1 victory over Bursaspor in the quarter-final of the Turkish Cup on January 31, Naki wrote in relation to the curfew and siege in the Diyarbakır district of Sur: “We dedicate this victory to those who have lost their lives and been injured in the 50 days of oppression we face on our lands. Long live freedom.”
The investigation into the case was completed recently and claims the Kurdish footballer engaged in “terrorist propaganda” seven times since last year. Naki’s posts are accused of “creating enmity and hate between two different sections of society”, “glorifying terrorists and terrorism” and “presenting security forces as committing massacres against the region’s people”.
A photo of Naki wearing traditional Kurdish clothing at a Kurdish New Year (Newroz) celebration was also placed in the indictment with the accusation that it was the attire of a Kurdish militant.
In his statement on the indictment, Naki said: “The posts belong to me. Only the post on 4 September 2015 I’m not sure about. A friend of mine in Germany also has access to my account. He may have posted that.
“My aim with these posts was to give messages of peace. I’ve always made my thoughts clear. No one can rejoice at the death of someone else.
“My posts represent my personal viewpoint. I want fraternity, unity and equality for everyone in this country.”