Turkish prison administration imposes disciplinary penalty to 14 prisoners over dancing halay to Kurdish music

An Ankara prison administration has imposed a disciplinary penalty to 14 prisoners for dancing halay to Kurdish “Lê Amedê” song. Accordingly, the administration restricted prisoners’ communication rights for one month, arguing that they were celebrating for the PKK.

Duvar English

The administration of the Sincan No. 1 High Security Closed Prison in Turkey’s capital Ankara has imposed a disciplinary penalty to 14 prisoners for dancing halay to Kurdish music, the Mesopotamia News Agency reported on Nov. 19.

Accordingly, one of the prisoners, Kinyas Ataman, received the announcement of the wedding of his three nephews during a phone call with his family on Aug. 15. After returning to his ward, Ataman and his friends started dancing halay to Kurdish “Lê Amedê” song. 

A report then was filed regarding their dance. The Disciplinary Board of the prison searched the song “Lê Amedê” on Google and included its Kurdish-Turkish lyrics in the investigation report.

In their statements, four guards stated that the prisoners were chanting slogans, whereas the prisoners denied the claims.

The Disciplinary Board argued that the song in question contained “(terrorist) organization’s message.”

However, the song in question does not contain the accused lyrics “Bijî Serok Apo” and “Bijî Guerilla” as the board argued. The board also did not include the content of Ataman's phone call in the investigation documents, in which he received the announcement of his relative’s weddings.

The board then argued the Aug. 15 was the anniversary of the first major action of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and that the prisoners were dancing halay for this reason, and added that the prisoners were disrupting the order of the institution and setting “bad example.”

The board decided on Aug. 31 to restrict the prisoners’ communication rights for one month, including receiving and sending letters, and meetings with their families.

The prisoners then brought the issue to the judiciary and said they were members of the PKK and that they would defend and claim when they celebrate for the PKK, but that they danced halay for the announcement of the wedding. 

An Ankara court found the disciplinary penalty given to be appropriate and rejected the prisoners’ request.