Family acquitted in Gezi case on pots and pans protest

Family acquitted in Gezi case on pots and pans protest

Ayşegül Usta - Istanbul
Family acquitted in Gezi case on pots and pans protest An Istanbul court acquitted a woman and two of her children who allegedly banged pots and pans in support of last summer's Gezi Park protests on May 16.

Filiz Değirmenciler, her daughter Tuğçe Aldede and her son Onur Aldede were tried at the 10th Penal Court of Peace in Istanbul for "disturbing the peace". The prosecution had asked the court to send the three members of the family for up to one year in jail, after a complaint was filed by their neighbor Hilal Kazcıoğlu.

The defence lawyer argued that the family members didn't participate in the pots and pans protest. "Even if they had done it, it can't be regarded as a crime, as Article 123 of the Turkish Penal Law states that an action can be deemed criminal only when it is intentional and targeted," the lawyer had said. 

The lawyer also claimed that Kazcıoğlu nurtured enmity towards Değirmenciler, not because of the Gezi Park protests, but due to a disagreement in the building both families live. 

Witness Dilek Bolverdi, another neighbor, confirmed that other residents had complained about the pets in Kazcıoğlu's apartment. "She kept the pets even after our complaints. This is why she nurtured enmity towards Değirmenciler," Bolverdi said.

Without assessing the legality of the pots and pans protests, the court merely acquitted Değirmenciler and her children by ruling that their actions were not intentional.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had urged locals to inform their neighbors if they bang pots and pans in support of the Gezi Park unrest last June. Consequently, the police had installed informant stations in neighborhoods, ostensibly to lead a more effective fight against crime and allow citizens to remain anonymous while providing intelligence on their neighbors.

The legality of pots and pans protests were questioned in university classes, too. An associate professor at Ankara University’s Law Department had asked on an exam whether it was possible to file a criminal complaint against people banging pots and pans in protest at the government. 

"In Turkish history there is an awkward connection between drums, weapons and kitchen utensils. The elite guard known as the Janissary Corps held great power in the Ottoman Empire. Janissaries used to raise cauldrons to start a riot, turning the soup cauldron upside down, and banging it with ladles like a drum," Aylin Öney Tan wrote for Hürriyet Daily News last June.

The pots and pans protests inspired contemporary Turkish music, too, as ethnic/folkloric band Kardeş Türküler even produced a politically-charged song using kitchen utensils, which quickly went viral on social media last year: