A popular singer has been arrested in Turkey under allegations that they're part of a terrorist organization. Syria's Omar Souleyman was arrested under charges of being a Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK member. Turkey and the United States call PKK a terrorist organization. Al-Monitor reports that over 5,000 people have died in the PKK conflict with Turkey since the crumbling of a cease-fire in 2015.
Souleyman's arrest is one of the latest arrests by Turkey, who frequently charge people for terrorism and accuse them of being a member of the PKK. Human rights groups have questioned and condemned the actions of the Turkish government, while opposition groups deny connection to the PKK despite Turkey forcing charges on them.
Turkey-the worst place ever for musicians. Visit a Kurdish area, sing in Kurdish or write “Kurdistan” and you’ll be jailed. This is called racist fascism brought to you by Dick-tater Erdogan #sanctionturkey https://t.co/Ej3t1ImlS2— Serj Tankian (@serjtankian) November 18, 2021
The singer's arrest reportedly comes due to a speech in Germany years prior that praised the imprisoned leader of PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. He was taken into custody on the Syrian border and charged with suspicion of being a member of the terrorist group.
Originated from Tel Tamer in Syria, Souleyman left for Turney in 2011 at the start of the Syrian Civil War. His music is primarily in Arabic but he also performs in the Kurdish language, specifically in his hit song "Warni Warni." It has over 94 million views on YouTube, with Souleyman being noted for his more romantic songs and no true political messages to be found.
The situation with Turkey became enflamed in 2019 after Turkey invaded portions of Northeast Syria after the United State pulled from the area. Turkish President Erdogan has threatened to invade again, likely stoking tensions at a moment's notice.
The latest reports thankfully indicate Souleyman had been released by Turkey after police finished questioning him on his ties to the group. Upon his return home, he didn't consider fleeing in light of the arrest. "I love Turkey. The Europeans offered me asylum, but I love this country and I want to stay here," the singer told the media after returning home.