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International stars and artists publish protest letter

26 July 2013

A bevy of international stars, artists and scholars joined together to publish a letter addressed to to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in the UK’s broadsheet, ‘The Times’.

The letter roundly condemned Turkish police brutality in dealing with peaceful protestors at Gezi Park.

Those who signed included Sean Penn, Ben Kingsley, Susan Sarandon and British film director David Lynch characterised the Turkish government as “a dictatorial rule” and criticised Erdogan’s lack of compromise about protester’s demands.

It also accused the PM of being responsible for the deaths of five innocent youths. The letter added that Erdogan could be called to account by the EU’s Court of Human Rights for the heavy-handed stance held by the police.

They described the AKP’s counter rallies as being like the annual Nuremberg rallies staged 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.

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