Turkey: What Pressure do Artists face?
Already since the Gezi protests, but particularly since the attempted coup in July 2016, media creators face massive political influence. For example, state and urban theatres are controlled by the state. Stage director Frank Heuel commented: "They are centrally controlled, each schedule is checked, the casts are checked, the directors, the actors, the individual content as well as the stage productions itselves. During the production, someone comes over and takes a closer look. There is nothing to be done at all." That means anyone criticizing the current government to some extent is arrested. Unwelcome actors and directors are simply "taken out" from rehearsals.
Moreover, fiscal revenues for free theaters also increased. Usually, theatres in Istanbul pay ten percent on all entrance fees. However, in case a play is staged that is not on the "good list", 18% are due. Thus, free theatres tend to die economically.
Nevertheless, some artists continue to resist. Especially in critical times, content is developed for art. "Good for art - but bad for the artists," claims director Emrah Eren.
The hitherto hottest case of repression and persecution is the imprisonment of the German-Turkish journalist and literary writer Deniz Yücel. Yücel worked for the tageszeitung (taz) as an editor from 2007 to 2015 and has been a correspondent for the World N24 Group since 2015. His government-critical reporting for the “Welt” put him back behind bars in Turkey.
Some of Yücel's statements outline clearly, what is currently going wrong in Turkey. In this context, the journalist wrote that the coup attempt was a "gift of Allah" for the Turkish president. Erdogan himself had named it a "favor of God". Yücel wrote about the vote of the presidential system in April, "Erdogan wanted to enforce a dictatorship by means of a referendum." This is what to be found in the court record. In addition, although the opposition parties and German politicians see this from a similar way point of view, such statements face resistance in Turkey and are reason enough to accuse a German-Turkish journalist of "propaganda for a foreign terrorist organization and incitement of the population".
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