POLITICS > 'So-called' celebs who signed The Times Gezi letter were 'deceived': PM Erdoğan

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

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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 British broadsheet The Times. DHA Photo

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 British broadsheet The Times. DHA Photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said the signatories of an open letter published in The Times criticizing him for police violence during the Gezi Park protests in Turkey were "seriously deceived."

"Such famous people should read well and understand the texts that they sign. Those who have signed this letter have been seriously deceived," Erdoğan said during the opening ceremony of an airport in the southeastern Şırnak province July 26. 

The letter that appeared in the British broadsheet included Hollywood celebrities such as Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. 

"We regret that so-called celebrities who could not even show Turkey in a map have signed such a letter without reading its content, judging the sensitivity of the notions [in the letter], and without understanding the inside story of what happened in Turkey," the prime minister added.

Erdoğan also said legal action would be taken against The Times and those who wrote the open letter ad. "I wonder how much you took for publishing this letter The Times? This is your worth. We will give a legal fight," he said. "This letter will not cause the slightest stain to Turkey's reputation. But it will stain the newspapers and names who publish it."

Eralier in the day, Erdoğan had accused The Times of showing "lack of morality" in publishing the letter. "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 on 50 percent of the vote a dictator," Erdoğan said today in Istanbul.

'Dictatorial rule'

The full-page letter was published in The Times July 24. Along with Penn and Sarandon, it contained the signatures of internationally renowned artists and scholars such as movie director David Lynch, British actor Ben Kingsley or Anrew Mango, the biographer of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish state.

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.

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.


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Notice on comments

Kaan Girgin

8/7/2013 9:15:25 AM

@Murun Buchstansangur It's a misunderstanding 2 think I'm against comment from abroad, I just like 2 give perspective. My point is democracy in Turkey won't progress simply by having a go at RTE or TC police. We need to be constructive, not destructive with our comments. I also get worried when so many people that weren't at the protests or in TC make such accusations as U do. Rounded up? You make it sound like Nazi Germany. I'm not in fear of my life, I don't need foreign aid 4 my tent, either.

Murun Buchstansangur

8/6/2013 10:02:22 AM

@Kaan. Your heartfelt patriotism is good to see. It is naive though to believe that recent events in Turkey are immune from comment from abroad. Whilst it may be difficult to entertain this criticism from certain quarters, I don't believe that democracy in Turkey can progress without it. Its not just that 'peaceful dissenters' are not being listened to, they are slowly being rounded up (in case you hadn't noticed). Best of luck getting compensation for your tent. I've one I can lend you!

Kaan Girgin

8/4/2013 1:30:45 AM

@michele suzanne Did you read the news that Head of Forward Thinking in Britain actually came out in support of Erdogan and criticised the Time for its lack of impartiality? Funny I don't see that news at the DN anywhere?

michele suzanne

8/3/2013 1:10:31 PM

The single worst stain on Turkey is YOU, Mr Erdogan - I strongly suggest you cease underestimating peoples' intelligence.

Kaan Girgin

8/3/2013 3:00:23 AM

Yeah, well I expect better and a lot more from Americans! We aint going to be getting it any time soon! Stop meddling in our affairs, Turkey is old enough and strong enough to sort out its internal disputes, American has no right to give anyone lessons in democracy anymore as far as I can see. The West needs to get over itself.

mara mcglothin

8/2/2013 2:55:30 AM

TURKISH DAUGHTER So very well said. I too, as a Turkish American wife to love Turkey and expect more for Turkey.

Kaan Girgin

7/30/2013 4:25:45 AM

@nyob nyobb No one in my country is my enemy just because I happen to have a different point of view! I love my Kurdish, Jewish, Armenian, Arab, Zaza, Laz, {you name it} family, anyone who shares the same TC passport as me. I am proud to be a part of this country, and I am proud of Ataturk, and all the people that fought so Daily News could be here, and I could be here, to post this message to you. Gezi Park is our own internal struggle, we will deal with it as a country as we have in past!

Kaan Girgin

7/30/2013 4:22:24 AM

@nyob nyobb Kurd, Arab, Armenian, Turk, Laz, Jew, RTE and my family all fought for this country's independence! We all have a stake in it, every citizen of every race whomsoever accepts citizenry of this beautiful nation of ours! It is our internal domestic dispute, and we will handle it. No democratic lessons from people who spy on us, detain people without due process, and who obviously have anti-Turkish bias please. RTE is NOT my enemy, is a citizen like me. The police, 2.

Kaan Girgin

7/30/2013 4:18:17 AM

@nyob nyobb Main reason West gives TR a hard time is cos TR democracy - good, bad or ugly - was given 2 the nation BY the nation and not a foreign ONE. We R 1 of the few in the region that didn't have their democracy forced, or tricked into it via 3rd parties, we fought 4 it. Thus we R 1 of the few democracies West can't pull the strings of. I am not RTE supporter, I still want compensation 4 my tent! But at least he is not a puppet. Kurd, Arab, Armenian, Turk, Laz, Jew, RTE and my family all...

Kaan Girgin

7/30/2013 4:04:21 AM

@nyob nyobb no governing party goes for democracy as well you know! They go for the most votes. In the West and elsewhere. Whether we like it or not, if AKP get the most votes in 2014 they will be in again. U can't threaten violence when you don't like the way the voting turns out - that IS thuggery! The thing AKP is DOING WRONG is not listening to the peaceful dissenters and giving them avenues to be heard properly. AND I AM ONE of them, but AM not ANTI-ERDOGAN! I am just a Turkish tree lover!!
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