Theater play on ‘dictatorship’ not allowed to be staged in Turkey’s Artvin

A theater play, titled “Just Dictator,” by Turkish actor Barış Atay was denied permission to use a theater hall in the city center due to its content.

Planned to be staged at the Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar Cultural Center on January 12, 2018 the play was deemed inappropriate by the Artvin Special Provincial Administation. Atay defied the lack of permission by the local administrations and tweeted on Tuesday that he is “going to meet with his audience despite all barriers.”

Previously the Berliner Schaubühne theater has scrapped an upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Richard III in Istanbul, fearing arrest of its staff, on Tuesday. “The arrests of many journalists, scientists and human rights activists in recent weeks and months,” as well as security concerns, were behind the decision, Deutsche Welle cited a press statement by the theater on November 7, 2017. “The impossibility of being able to give those involved a guarantee of their personal security in the current situation ultimately led us not to travel to Turkey,” said the press statement.

Turkish comedian and theater actor Ömer Pekin and 8 more actors were arrested and put behind the bars by an İzmir court in scope of İzmir-based investigation targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement on November 2017. Eighteen artists and theater players were detained on November 3, 2017 in 14 provinces in the framework of an investigation initiated by the İzmir Chief Prosecutor’s Office over a testimony of a secret witness.

Nine actors, including Ömer Pekin, who has been mostly known with his role in Turkish radio comedy “Perişan FM (Miserable FM)” and state-run TRT’s puppet show “Kuklagiller – (Pupet Family),” were were jailed over the charge of “being members of a terrorist organization.” The other 9 people were released by the same court with electronic clamp and judicial probation.

Renowned Turkish comedian Atalay Demirci was also reported to be among the detainees in the investigation, media reported. Demirci had spent 1 year and 17 days under pre-trial detention over similar charges before being released pending trial on August 17, 2017. Demirci faces aggravated life imprisonment and additional jail sentence of up to 10 year on accusations of membership to a “terrorist organization,” and “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, the Turkish government and the Turkish Parliament.”

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with

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