The authorities immediately opened a case and an investigation on this tweet and delivered yesterday finding it an insult to the president and ordered 11 months and 20 days of prison sentence for Demirhan
It all happened on the evening of the elections. On June 24, 2018 Turkey held general elections for the president and representatives for the National Assembly. Sendika.Org editor Ali Ergin Demirhan tweeted about the elections. This is not a simple matter in Turkey. Expressing your thoughts, even as a journalist, even as an editor of a well-read news site could get you into trouble.
Demirhan’s tweet constituted a crime, the prosecutors said. It was an insult to the president, he claimed. And Ali Ergin Demirhan had to defend himself in courts to prove that was not his intention.
The election had been decided by the ruling AKP and its coalition partner MHP, a nationalist, racist, far-right party in a hurry to prevent more losses from their voting base. On that election evening, the militants connected to the ruling party and its coalition were already terrorizing the streets after open threats against the opposition on social media with impunity. The ruling parties had tried to suppress any opposition and had even sent the key opposition party’s president, Selahattin Demirtaş, to prison with trumped up charges. Upon receiving the preliminary results, the main opposition candidate Muharrem Ince had wrapped up and left abruptly to go home without challenging the openly stacked and fraudulent elections. In this atmosphere, Demirhan had tweeted:
Did anyone expect Erdoğan to depart without fraud, lies or tricks? Was there anybody who expected our will to be accepted officially without giving a fight? Let us send this gang, which the whole world sees its time for them to go, holding the country in their power only with lies, fraud and massacres, where they deserve to go.
The authorities immediately opened a case and an investigation on this tweet and delivered yesterday finding it an insult to the president and ordered 11 months and 20 days of prison sentence for Demirhan. The sentence took into consideration neither the events happening on the streets where pro-government thugs were attacking opposition nor the challenges brought on the way elections were held.
Ali Ergin Demirhan spoke after the sentence explaining what lay behind his tweet:
First of all, due to being a biased member of a political party, (Erdoğan) cannot be protected and held above criticism the same way an independent and unbiased president would enjoy immunity. He has openly offended the 50% of the population, and has rained insults on the journalists, academicians, and opposition politicians himself. In this environment, every citizen of this country can reply to him.
Second, when the fraud in the elections were proven and his response was, ‘It’s too late, it’s too bad’ for the April 16 referendum; And, when he lost the election by 13,000 votes but instead of conceding, had the March 31st elections annulled and repeated even though the head of the High Election Council found this irregular, we have the practice of ‘fraud, lies, and trickery.’ This is not an insult, this is an observation.”
The sentence against Ali Ergin Demirhan, however, has been postponed on probation. If Demirhan does not commit the same “crime” in the next 5 years, the sentence will be reversed.
Demirhan’s attorney Tuba Güneş said they will appeal the sentence.