Politicians Sue Journalists, Writers and Illustrators
The trial against the Beyoğlu Troupe opened upon the complaint of PM Erdoğan will start on 21 January. Journalist Ekşi is also facing prosecution. At the same time, CHP Deputy Mengü complained about the cartoon book "The young Mustafa" on the life of Mustafa Atatürk.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan filed a criminal complaint against 16 members of the Beyoğlu Troupe of Actors. At the same time, Şahin Mengü, Member of Parliament of the Republican People's Party (CHP) lodged a complaint about the cartoon strip story "The young Mustafa" dealing with the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Turkish Republic.
Prior to the complaint filed by PM Erdoğan, the Beyoğlu Troupe performed at the "Judas Tree Festival" organized by the Municipality of Çatalca in July 2010. After the performance,Selim Güçbilmez, District Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), went backstage.
As reported by the Left News ('Sol Haber') web site, Güçbilmez threatened the actors. Members of the troupe and their supporters were taken into custody without a legal basis. 25 people gave their statement to the Çatalca Prosecution upon the complaint. A trial was launched against 16 members of the troupe.
The program "From our country" touched on issues such as the death of shipyard workers, television series, privatization and freedom of expression. One of the characters in the play performed a song entitled "The Tayyip Blues". The lyrics of the song were taken as a reason for the criminal complaint.
Güçbilmez initially complained at the police. He will be heard as a witness in the trial that is to be opened on 21 January.
Oktay Ekşi facing six years in jail
Together with Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu and Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, Erdoğan also lodged a complaint against Oktay Ekşi, former "chief writer" of the Hürriyet newspaper. Ekşi is alleged of "insulting a public official on the grounds of his duty".
The Bakırköy (Istanbul) Public Prosecutor, Piran Barut Emre, opened another case against Ekşi by reason of the journalist's critical writing about a hydroelectric power plant (HES). Ekşi is facing prison terms of up to two years. Prosecutor Emre demanded to apply a three-count sentence citing the three different complaints. The first hearing is scheduled for 15 February.
Mengü sues writer and illustrator of "Young Mustafa"
Mengü, CHP Member of Parliament for Manisa (western Turkey), filed a criminal complaint at the Ankara Public Chief Prosecution against Yalın Alpay and Barış Keşoğlu, writer and illustrator respectively of the comic book "The young Mustafa". Alpay and Keşoğlu stand accused of "insulting and cursing the memory of Atatürk".
The cartoon story about the life of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was published in November 2010. The complaint also included a passage about a pasha trying to overthrow Atatürk:
"The drawings of Atatürk are entirely fictional and are not based on any official documents or data. Depicting Atatürk in an Ottoman palace being beaten with fists and sticks in a week and poor position is abasing and humiliating".
The petition also refers to the preface written by Alpay, saying that the book "became a product to take Atatürk to account and that it pursued to change the perception of Atatürk in a different way from how he was perceived until today. It was clearly revealed that the book was published with this motivation", it was put forward.
Alpay and Keşoğlu are facing punishment under Articles 1 and 2 of Law No. 5816 on Crimes against Atatürk on charges of "insulting and cursing the memory of Atatürk". (EÇ/EÖ/VK)
Sources: Hürriyet newspaper, Zaman newspaper, Sol Haber website.