Penn, Sarandon and intellectuals condemn Gezi crackdown in letter to Turkish PM
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Signatories included Hollywood celebrities known for their activism, such as Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Ben Kingsley and movie director David Lynch.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 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.
It 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, the 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.