The organizing committee of the Golden Orange Film Festival in Turkey’s Antalya province has removed a documentary depicting the plight of victims of a massive purge of state institutions by the Turkish government in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2016, drawing strong criticism from victims and activists, Turkish Minute reported on Saturday.
Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government declared a state of emergency following an abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that remained in effect until July 19, 2018. During the state of emergency the AKP carried out a purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight by issuing a number of government decrees, known as KHKs, purging 130,000 civil servants from their jobs due to their real or alleged connections to “terrorist organizations.”
Former public servants were not only fired from their jobs; they were also prohibited from working again in the public sector and getting a passport. The government also made it difficult for them to work formally in the private sector. Notes were put on the social security database about dismissed public servants to deter potential employers.
The documentary, directed by Nejla Demirci, focuses on the post-dismissal struggles of Yasemin, a doctor, and Engin, a teacher, who were fired from their civil service jobs through KHK decrees.
Commenting on the removal of the film from the festival, Münir Korkmaz, a reporter for KHK TV, a YouTube channel established by victims of the post-coup purge in Turkey, said: “We do not accept this attitude and strongly condemn it. This film was about the honorable struggle of KHK victims. We demand its reinstatement among the competing films.”
Turkish film director Ezel Akay described the removal as a “big mistake” and called for the festival to reverse its decision.
Actor, director and writer Orhan Alkaya also expressed disapproval, stating that those responsible for the removal should “curl up and die—if they can feel shame.”
The Altın Portakal Film Festival is organized by the Antalya Metropolitan Municipality, which run by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Antalya Culture and Art Foundation.
The documentary was already the subject of a ruling last year by the Constitutional Court, which found that the local authorities’ ban on filming violated freedom of expression and awarded Demirci 13,500 Turkish lira in compensation.