LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER OF TURKEY

 THE TIMES NEWSPAPER FULL PAGE ADVERT, 24TH JULY 2013, PAGE 24

A group of internationally renowned artists and scholars condemned the Turkish authorities’ heavy-handed crackdown on the Gezi Park protests in a full-page letter published July 24 in the British broadsheet The Times, addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

The signatories, including figures known for their activism such as Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Ben Kingsley and movie director David Lynch, described the Turkish government as “a dictatorial rule” and slammed Erdoğan’s uncompromising stance regarding the protesters’ demands. 

The letter reads:

"Dear Mr. Erdogan,

We, the undersigned, write this letter to most vigorously condemn the heavy-handed clamp down of your police forces on the peaceful protestors at Taksim Square and Gezi Park in Istanbul, as well as in other major cities of Turkey, which, according to the Turkish Media Association, has left 5 people dead, 11 blinded-due to indiscriminate use of pepper gas, and over 8000 injured.

Yet, only days after clearing Taksim Square and Gezi Park relying on untold brutal force, you held a meeting in Istanbul, reminiscent of the Nuremberg Rally, with total disregard for the five dead whose only crime was to oppose your dictatorial rules. There are more journalist languishing in your prisons than the combined number of China and Iran. Moreover, you described these protestors as tramps, looters and hooligans, even alleging they were foreign-led terrorists. Whereas, in reality, they were nothing but youngsters wanting Turkey to Remain a Secular Republic as designed by its founder Kemal Ataturk.

Finally, while you aspire to make your country a member of EU, you refute all criticism leveled at you by its leaders, on grounds of Turkey being a Sovereign State. Notwithstanding, may we respectfully remind you, on grounds of the Convention signed on 9 August 1949, Turkey is a member of Council of Europe, and by virtue of ratifying the Europe Court of Human Rights. Consequently, your orders which led to deaths of five innocent youths, might well constitute a Case to Answer, in Strasbourg."

The Gezi Park protests in Turkey began when on May 28 2013 the plans of replacing Taksim Gezi Park with a reconstruction of the historic Taksim Military Barracks (demolished in 1940) with the possibility of housing a shopping mall became known. The protests developed into riots when a group occupying the park was attacked by police. The subjects of the protests have since broadened beyond the development of Taksim Gezi Park, developing into wider anti-government demonstrations. The protests have also spread to other cities in Turkey, and protests have been seen in other countries with significant Turkish communities. On May 31 2013, police suppressed the protesters with tear gas, arrested at least 60 people and injured hundreds. The police action received wide attention online. 5 men died in the clashes between the police and the protesters, more than 7,500 people were injured and about 5,000 of people were arrested. By the data provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkey, about 2,5 million people from 79 regions took part in the anti-government demonstrations held in Turkey.

Source | Compiled from various resources

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TURKISH PM ERDOGAN THREATENS TO SUE TIMES OVER OPEN LETTER ...

Turkey's prime minister has threatened legal action against a UK newspaper for publishing an open letter criticising his handling of recent protests.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the Times of "renting out its pages for money".

Hollywood celebrities and academics were among those who signed the letter this week accusing Turkey's government of "dictatorial rule".

A row over a park in Istanbul last month triggered widespread anti-government protests.

At least four people were killed and thousands more injured as police cracked down on demonstrators who accused Mr Erdogan of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

"The press wants to throw mud to see if it sticks," Mr Erdogan told reporters in comments broadcast on Turkey's NTV channel.

"The Times is renting out its own pages for money. This is the Times' failing. We will pursue legal channels regarding the Times."

Anti-government protesters in Taksim, Istanbul. 20 July 2013
Mr Erdogan has referred to the anti-government protesters as "thugs"
Mr Erdogan said those who signed the letter - taken out as an full-page advertisement - had "rented out their thoughts" and did not genuinely support democracy.

"If they truly believed in democracy, they couldn't have displayed such a lack of character to call the leader of a party that won 50% of the vote a dictator," the prime minister said.

The Times has so far not commented on the remarks.

The open letter was signed by 30 people including Turkish pianist Fazil Say, US film stars Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, film director David Lynch and British historian David Starkey.

They condemned the crackdown on anti-government protesters and compared giant pro-government rallies - organised by Mr Erdogan's AKP party to counter the protests - to the huge rallies staged in Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany.

The wave of unrest in Turkey was sparked by demonstrations against controversial plans to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park.

The authorities' heavy-handed response sparked anti-government protests nationwide.

SOURCE | http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-23474404

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Legal action will be started against the British daily The Times, Turkish PM says

26 July 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said legal action would be taken against British daily The Times and those who wrote an open letter ad criticizing him for Turkish police violence during the Gezi Park unrest in Turkey.

“These are people who have rented out their minds. If they were sincere about democracy they would not act so immorally as to call a prime minister who was elected by receiving 50 percent of the vote a dictator,” Erdoğan said today in Istanbul.

Erdoğan said those who had signed the letter did not know him truly. 

“There are such media groups in Turkey that do every [kind of defamation.] How can they defame us when they are jailed? They [the signers] are doing it because they do not know Turkey. The Times rents its page, this is their lack of morality,” Erdoğan added.

A group of internationally renowned artists and scholars condemned the Turkish authorities’ heavy-handed crackdown on the Gezi Park protests in the full-page letter published July 24 in British broadsheet The Times, addressed to Erdoğan. 

The signatories, including figures known for their activism such as Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Ben Kingsley and movie director David Lynch, described the Turkish government as “a dictatorial rule” and slammed Erdoğan’s uncompromising stance regarding the protesters’ demands. 

The prime minister’s orders “led to the deaths of five innocent youths,” the letter said, adding that he might be called to render account to the European Court of Human Rights for the police’s violence.

They also compared the counter-rallies organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to the annual Nuremberg rallies organized by the Nazis.

“Only days after clearing Taksim Square and Gezi Park relying on untold brutal force, you held a meeting in Istanbul, reminiscent of the Nuremberg Rally, with total disregard for the five dead whose only crime was to oppose your dictatorial rule,” the letter said.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman Hüseyin Çelik described the letter, which was penned by a list of famous figures, including actors and authors, as an example of “arrogance,” saying it “was served to them [the writers] by those inside the country.” 

Çelik also accused the celebrities of “ignoring” the situation in Syria and events in Egypt, and of harboring anti-AKP feelings.

“The answers that need to be given will be given. This is extremely arrogant and out of place behavior. We strongly refute and condemn it,” Çelik said. 

The letter also emphasized that more journalists were imprisoned in Turkey than in Iran and China combined. “Moreover, you described these protesters as tramps, looters and hooligans, even alleging they were foreign-led terrorists. Whereas, in reality, they were nothing but youngsters wanting Turkey to remain a Secular Republic as designed by its founder Kemal Atatürk,” the letter added.

Andrew Mango, the biographer of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and Fazıl Say, a Turkish pianist who was recently sentenced for blasphemy after tweeting several lines attributed to a poet, were also among the signatories.

Other signatories included: Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, British Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, British actress Vanessa Redgrave, British film director of Turkish origin Fuad Kavur, Hungarian cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond and American freelance journalist and writer Claire Berlinski.


26 July 2013 |  Hurriyet Daily News

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