Fourteen people, including two minors, were detained earlier this month for singing Kurdish songs at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Park in İstanbul’s Esenyurt district, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Saturday.
A group of Kurds were enjoying themselves and singing songs at the park on Aug. 7 until police intervened and detained them.
The two minors were later released, but 12 of the group were jailed pending trial.
Mazlum Metin, one of the detainees, told the prosecutor that he and his friends sang one song in Turkish and two in Kurdish. After a while, a team of police officers arrived at the park after receiving a tipoff. The group was chanting “Kurdistan will be a grave for the Turkish Republic,” the indictment claimed, elaborating on the charges against the detainees.
The group rejects the charges. The prosecutor cited the police report and the “silence of the detainees” as evidence for the charges leveled against them.
Gamze Sarıyel, lawyer for the accused young people, said the police had already made up their minds after examining the ID cards of the group at the park.
“The police came to the park and looked at their IDs and saw Diyarbakır as hometown on eight of them. The police were then heard saying that ‘these guys are certainly terrorists’,” Sarıyel told Cumhuriyet.
Esenyurt is a district in İstanbul that is home to a large number of Kurdish migrants who moved from Turkey’s Southeast, a region hit by bloody conflict between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and Turkish security forces, seeking safety and peace in İstanbul.
The detainees complained about mistreatment at the hands of the police and said they were subjected to police beatings both at the park and in detention.