‘Turkish Marx’ detained for insulting Erdoğan
Haldun Açıksözlü's latest play, ‘Laz Marx,’ was produced in cooperation with Leman Kültür, the comedy club of Leman, a famous satirical magazine based in Istanbul.A Turkish comedian has been detained for not paying compensation to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which he was ordered to pay after making a statement that the court deemed insulting.
Director and actor Haldun Açıksözlü, who was known for his political stand-up comedy show “Laz Marx,” was ordered to pay 6,000 Turkish Liras in compensation to Erdoğan for insulting the then-prime minister in 2011. The Court of Appeals later upheld the ruling of the local court in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum.
Daily Milliyet reported on Feb. 19 that Açıksözlü was recently detained at the Atatürk International Airport in Istanbul while leaving for Germany. He was then taken to a courthouse in the Bakırköy district, where he said in his testimony that he had not been notified that his appeal had been rejected.
At least four people have been arrested over the past week for insulting Erdoğan, according to Agence France-Presse. All of the arrests are related to nationwide demonstrations on Feb. 13, when thousands boycotted schools and took to the streets to demand a secular education.
Onur Kılıç, 25, the organiser of the demonstration in the western city of İzmir, was arrested on Feb. 13 for anti-Erdoğan slogans referring to corruption allegations against the president and his inner circle.
“I was told that I was arrested for insulting the president. But I haven’t insulted anyone, I was just telling the truth,” Kılıç, who now faces up to four years in prison, was quoted as saying by Doğan News Agency.
Amnesty International on Feb. 16 called for “urgent action” to release Kılıç and called on the government to end all prosecutions and detentions under a law that criminalises insulting the president. It said such prosecutions “violate the right to freedom of expression.”
Students under arrest
Another protester, Kadir Yavaş, was arrested on the same charge during a protest against Kılıç’s arrest.
Arif Buğra Aydoğan, a 20-year-old student, was arrested on Feb. 16 after police raided and searched his home in the town of Gebze in Kocaeli province, east of Istanbul. He was charged with insulting Erdoğan after chanting slogans against the president during a protest in Gebze.
Another student, 24-year-old Şafak Kurt, was also arrested on Feb. 16 after police found a video showing him shouting “Thief, murderer Erdoğan!” during A protest in the southern province of Manisa.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old student, identified only by the initials H.U.C., was handed a seven-month suspended sentence in the southern city of Antalya on charges of “insulting a public official” in a 2014 anti-Erdoğan speech
In a case that has attracted international attention, teenage schoolboy Mehmet Emin Altunses will go on trial on March 6 on charges of insulting the president in a speech in the Central Anatolian city of Konya.