RIGHTS >Deaf, mute man faces 25 years in jail for terrorist propaganda in Turkey


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Mehmet Tahir İlhan is married and has 6 children. DHA photo

Mehmet Tahir İlhan is married and has 6 children. DHA photo

A specially authorized prosecutor in Adana has demanded 25 years in prison for a man who was born deaf and mute on charges of "making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization” at a protest last year.

"It is impossible for my client to chant slogans,” said Tugay Berk, the lawyer for 37-year-old Mehmet Tahir İlhan, adding that the suspect had not only been deaf and mute from birth but was also illiterate. “It is against logic and reason to charge a suspect, who is lacking the physical abilities to make propaganda on behalf of an organization, with such an accusation. The fact that İlhan is being put on trial for making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization is tragicomic. We request that this unlawfulness be ended immediately.”

İlhan, who worked as a porter at a wholesale vegetable market in the southern province of Mersin, was detained by police on April 21, 2011, during a protest by the supporters of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). He was first released by a Mersin court but later arrested by a court in the adjacent province of Adana that was looking into the case. 
A specially authorized prosecutor in Adana charged İlhan with "committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization," "making propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organization" and "resisting arrest" and asked the court to sentence him to 25 years in prison. 
İlhan gave his testimony in the court with the help of an interpreter and rejected the charges against him. "I was on my way home after finishing work at the market when I saw the protesting group. A friend [in the group] of mine gestured at me to join them but I refused. The police intervened right after that," İlhan said in his testimony. 
"I did not throw rocks, Molotov cocktails or fireworks at the police," he said. 
Berk said the BDP supporters were protesting a decision by the Supreme Election Board (YSK) to bar BDP-backed independent candidates from running in the 2011 elections and that the incident had nothing to do with terrorism. 


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