A deaf man is facing up to 25 years in jail for allegedly participating in an unauthorized pro-Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) demonstration in Mersin province.
Mehmet Tahir İlhan, who works as a porter at a local wholesale food market, was detained on April 1, 2001, at a demonstration on Çiftçiler Street in Mersin. He faces charges of “committing a crime on behalf of the PKK,” “spreading propaganda for the PKK” and “resisting law enforcement officers.”
İlhan is being tried by the Specially Authorized 8th Criminal Court. His wife, Necmiye İlhan, a mother of six, told reporters: “He left the market and was on his way home and inadvertently got trapped in the middle of demonstrators. My kids and I are in a deplorable situation. I want my husband to be released.”
Tugay Bek, İlhan's lawyer, said: “İlhan has been completely mute and deaf since birth. He also does not know how to read or write. It is impossible for İlhan to have chanted any slogans. The accusations against this defendant, who does not have the physical abilities needed to spread [pro-PKK] propaganda, defy logic and reason.”