The Artists Initiative expressed deep concern about the recent oppression of all opposition sections of society in their signature campaign entitled "We disapprove".
The related meeting on Wednesday (29 February) at a theatre in Taksim/Istanbul was attended by renowned Turkish artists such as musician Edip Akybayram, theatre and cinema actor Levent Kırca, actor Rutkay Aziz, writer and human rights activist Eşber Yağmurdereli, theatre and cinema actress Arsen Gürzap, writer Metin Uca or poet and author Ataol Behramoğlu.
Actor Orhan Aydın introduced the campaign "We disapprove" to the audience. He said that Turkish writers, poets, painters, sculptors, movie and theatre artists, caricaturists, photograph artists and all people of art were concerned about the future of the country.
"Universal values of enlightenment and the gains of our republic are being destroyed. Secular and scientific education is retrograding and takes on anachronistic characteristics. The quest of the young people for freedom and the working class's search for their rights is being threatened by police truncheons and imprisonment".
Censorship and Auto-Censorship
"Independent thinking has been put behind bars. Justice became the tool of injustice. The public's right to information has been seized. The artists' freedom of creativity is under the threat of censorship and auto-censorship to a level unmatched with any other period [in the past]", Aydın critcized.
Aydın announced that the artists would see it as the duty of the conscience of arts to be on the side of labour, democracy, justice, modernity and resistance to injustice and oppression.
After Aydın's speech, Levent Kırca declared, "For a long time, people said 'nothing will happen' with regard to the government policies. Later on, they said 'it's too late'. Today is the right time".
Painter Mehmet Güleryüz emphasized "Together we have the power to speak up against the stumbling".
Eşber Yağmurdereli reminded that 150,000 people were currently incarcerated in Turkish prisons and drew attention to the fact that the number of prisoners was lower even in the period around the 12 September military coup in 1980. Arsen Gürzap claimed that artists did not bow their heads during the military coup d'états on 12 March 1972 and 12 September 1980 and that they were not going to do so now.
Tarık Akan, Edip Akbayram, Onur Akın, Sunay Akın, Üstün Akmen, Alaattin Aksoy, Mehmet Aksoy, Muzaffer Akyol, Aytaç Arman, Hayati Asılyazıcı, Semir Aslanyürek, Engin Ayça, Orhan Aydın, Rutkay Aziz, Kürşat Başar, Cezmi Baskın, Bedri Baykam, Nihat Behram, Ataol Behramoğlu, Cahit Berktay, Mustafa Bilgin, Metin Boran, Metin Coşkun,Tuncer Cücenoğlu, İsa Çelik, Nevzat Çelik, Haluk Çetin, Meral Çetinkaya, İsmail Hakkı Demircioğlu, Metin Demirtaş, Nuri Dikeç, Atilla Dorsay, Leyla Erbil, Bilgesu Erenus, Genco Erkal, Altan Erkekli, Erdal Erzincan, Mert Firat, Müjdat Gezen, Altan Gördüm, Mehmet Güleryüz, Tarık Günersel, Hüseyin Haydar, Emin İgüs, Levent İnanır, Özdemir İnce, İlhan İrem, Ekrem Kahraman, Bülent Kayabaş,Yıldız Kenter, Erol Keskin, Suna Keskin, Tuğrul Keskin, Arif Keskiner, Levent Kırca, Mine Kırıkkanat, Kemal Kocatürk, Nuri Kurtcebe, Orhan Kurtuldu, Mustafa Köz, Küçük İskender, Safîye Mine, Mustafa Mutlu, Yılmaz Onay, Zeynep Oral, Yılmaz Onay, Fikret Otyam, Nedim Saban, Vedat Sakman, Sali, Menderes Samancılar, Timur Selçuk, Osman Şahin, Osman Şengezer, Ferhan Şensoy, Burhan Şeşen, Cihat Tamer, Yavuz Top, Gülsen Tuncer, Cüneyt Türel, Yaman Tüzcet, Metin Uca, Engin Uludağ, Ersan Uysal, Nejat Yavaşoğulları, Işık Yenersu, Ender Yiğit, Ümit Zileli, Yıldız Kenter. (NV)