Artists and scholars, including celebrities known for their activism, such as Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Ben Kingsley and movie director David Lynch, have condemned the Turkish authorities’ heavy-handed crackdown on the Gezi Park protests in Turkey in a full-page letter published July 24 in the British broadsheet The Times and addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The signatories, who described the Turkish government as “a dictatorial rule,” slammed Erdoğan’s uncompromising stance regarding the protesters’ demands. Erdoğan’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 likened the counter-rallies organized by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a response to the protests with the annual Nuremberg rallies organized by the German 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, emphasizing 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.