Deniz Naki, making a victory sign / Unknown
Kurdish footballer Deniz Naki has been indicted by a Turkish court on 'terrorist propaganda' charges for sharing posts about the destruction of Kurdish cities and the death of civilians and militants on Facebook and Twitter.
Naki, who plays as a striker and playmaker for Kurdish team Amedspor in the Turkish 1st Division, will face 1 to 5 years in prison if found guilty.
On 4 September 2015, a post saying, "A thousand greetings to the heroes of Dersim," was shared on Naki's official Facebook page after two Kurdistan Workers' Party guerrillas were killed in Dersim, Naki's hometown.
In a post on 4 January 2016, Naki criticised the military curfew and siege in Cizre, where more than 200 civilians were killed, by sharing a photo of a father sitting with the lifeless body of his two children with the caption: "Think of a father who's two children have been shot and laying next to him lifelessly; he can't even bury them because there is a curfew in Cizre," the post read. (The photo was later revealed to belong to an incident in Palestine.)
In another post following Amedspor's 2-1 victory over Bursaspor in the quarter-final of the Turkish cup on 31 January 2016, Naki wrote in relation to the curfew and siege in Sur; "We dedicate this victory to those who have lost their lives and been injured in the 50 days of oppression we face on our lands. Long live freedom."
The investigation into the case was completed recently and claims the Kurdish footballer engaged in 'terrorist propaganda' 7 times between 2015 and 2016. The posts in question are accused of 'creating emnity and hate between two different sections of society,' 'glorifying terrorists and terrorism' and 'presenting security forces as committing massacres against the region's people'.
A photo of Naki wearing traditional Kurdish clothing at a Kurdish New Year (Newroz) celebration was also placed in the indictment with the accusation that it was militant's attire.
Naki's trial is expected to start at the 4th Criminal Court in the coming days. In his statement in the indictment Naki said, "The posts belong to me. Only the post on 4 September 2015 I'm not sure about. A friend of mine in Germany also has access to my account. He may have posted that. My aim with these posts was to give messages of peace. I've always made my thoughts clear. No one can rejoice at the death of someone else. My posts represent my personal viewpoint. I want fraternity, unity and equality for everyone in this country."
Deniz Naki was attacked and beaten in 2014 while playing for Turkish Premier League club Genclerbirligi for being Kurdish and Alawite. He formerly played for FC St Pauli and the Germany under-21 national team.
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