The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ordered Turkey to pay a total of 10,000 euros to Emrah Sarıtaş (31) and Mesut Geyik (33), who were sentenced to prison on charges of spreading “terrorist propaganda” for chanting slogans during a Grup Yorum concert in Tunceli in 2007.
“Given that the slogans in question are well-known and stereotyped leftists slogans and that they were chanted during a concert — a peaceful public gathering — they cannot be interpreted as a call for violence or an uprising,” the ECtHR said in its decision on Tuesday, the Bianet news website reported.
The two chanted, “Revolutionary prisoners are immortal,” “Martyrs of revolution are immortal” and “Victory on the mountains, emancipation at the front; long live victory, long live resistance,” in what the ECtHR called an exercise of freedom of expression.
Sarıtaş and Geyik were sentenced to 10 months in prison by a local court, a verdict that was upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals in 2011.
Barış Yıldırım, the lawyer representing Sarıtaş and Geyik and the head of the Tunceli Bar Association, stated that the ECtHR verdict would set a precedent for similar cases.
Members of Grup Yorum, known for its criticism of the government and support for the causes of political rights of Kurdish people and leftists, have faced detention and arrest several times.