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The Initiative for Freedom of Expression (IFAX), the umbrella organization of freed of expression defenders, has launched a campaign “Share World of Tayyips. Tell Turkey that satyr is not a crime”.
Four students from the Middle East Technical University (METÜ) have been tried on charge of “insulting president” for having carried a banner with the caricature of “World of Tayyips” published on Penguen humor magazine.
The students are pending trial in jail.
Sharing the caricature on its Twitter account, Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has been prosecuted. Criminal complaints have been filed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against 72 CHP MPs who shared the caricature.
Conveying the situation of METU students and MPs, IFEX calls on freedom of expression advocates to share the caricature to act in solidarity.
Satirical cartoons of political leaders are widely understood as a crucial form of social commentary around the world. In Turkey, however, they're yet another way the government criminalizes social criticism.
Stating that “Satirical cartoons of political leaders are widely understood as a crucial form of social commentary around the world”, IFEX adds, “In Turkey, however, they're yet another way the government criminalizes social criticism”.
“This July, punitive investigations have been launched against a group of technical university students, 72 MPs and the leader of the government's primary political opposition, all 'guilty' of sharing “World of Tayyips”, a cartoon that depicts Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the form of various animals”, says IFEX.
Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation into the banner carried during the graduation ceremony at Middle East Technical University (METU) on July 6 and charged the students who carried the banner with "insulting the president."
On the banner, there was a caricature which was originally published on the Penguen humor magazine in 2005. Under the heading of the "Kingdom of Tayyips", the caricature depicts the President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) Chair Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the form of an elephant, a cow, camel, frog, snake, duck, giraffe and monkey.
Erdoğan had filed a claim for immaterial compensation of 40 thousand YTL (New Turkish Lira). However, the case was rejected by the 1st Civil Court of First Instance on the ground that the caricature in question is within the scope of "freedom of expression". (BK/TK)
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