Two famous Turkish actors were released with bans on leaving the country after they were taken into custody for their criticism against the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on television.
Metin Akpinar, a famous actor and also a well-known comedian in Turkey, said on a programme aired on critical channel, Halk TV, “if we do not abide by the rules of democracy, like what happened to all forms of fascism, the leader might be hung from his feet or maybe poisoned in the cellars or end up in the same way as other leaders did in the past.”
He carried on, saying: “Whoever got closer to Russia while in office was overthrown one way or the other. Adnan Menderes (Prime Minister 1950-1960, executed by military regime in 1961) arranged an appointment with Russia and soon after a coup d’état overthrew him. Suleyman Demirel (Prime Minister, removed from office by 1980 military coup) also, got closer to Russia and a coup d’état overthrew him as well. Let’s see who is next now.”
Erdogan can not test our patriotism: Actor Mujdat Gezen
Mujdat Gezen, who is also a famous actor and a comedian, directly addressing the president unlike Akpinar, said: “He tells people off and orders them to ‘know their place’. Look Tayyip Erdogan you can not test our patriotism. You should know your place instead.”
President Erdogan lashed out at the comedians during a speech in Istanbul, saying that “these so-called artists are taking me to the halter. How dare you! We believe in martyrdom. We are ready to pay the price for that. These are pseudo-artists. They will pay for this.”
Following Erdogan’s comments chief prosecutor of the Anatolian District in Istanbul opened an investigation for the words spoken by the actors, and police have taken them to the courthouse for interrogation.
While Gezen is being accused of insulting the president, Akpinar’s words are currently being reviewed for whether or not they constitute a call for a coup or an assassination threat.
It is reported that Akpinar claimed in his defence that his words which were strictly in the context of humor and political satire were taken out of context to be distorted, as if they are a call for military coup or civil war.
“By no means, I am not at a position to target, to oppose Mr. President. I did not mention his name in my speech. We just tried to describe the democracy that we wish, we prefer for the welfare of our nation.” said Akpinar after his release.
“I was also tried in the term of Kenan Evren (Head of the military regime in Turkey between 1980-1983). Those times were better. Can you believe that? I am not afraid of them,” said Gezen to a Birgun daily’s reporter after his release.