Dec 05 2018

Arrest warrant issued for Turkish actor over Gezi Park protests

A Turkish court issued an arrest warrant for famous Turkish actor Mehmet Ali Alabora on charges of attempting to overthrow the government by taking part in the organisation of the 2013 Gezi Park protests, the biggest anti-government demonstrations since President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, T24 news site reported.

Authorities have stepped up efforts in recent weeks to try those involved in the protests after Erdoğan said anyone supporting them also backed the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement that is blamed for the 2016 failed coup. Turkey designates both groups as terrorist organisations.

The Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office said Alabora had started organising the protests in 2011, showing the actor saying “Revolt Istanbul!” in a video as evidence. A theatre play named Mi Minör, which the prosecutors said was about a revolt against the ruler of a fictional country, is also cited as evidence of Alabora’s role in the organisation of the Gezi protests. 

The court said the protests were orchestrated by Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been in jail for more than a year, but has not yet been issued with an indictment.

Alabora and his wife, actor Pınar Öğün, moved to Wales five years ago. The couple, with their business partner Meltem Arıkan, founded a theatre company and are currently staging a play named “Enough is Enough” in London.

Prosecutors opened cases against 120 people in the last week of November and are investigating 600 more for their part in the protests, which started as a peaceful sit-in against the proposed destruction of a small Istanbul park, but quickly spread across the country fed by discontent with Erdoğan’s Islamist government.

Twenty-two people were killed and more than 8,000 injured as police used tear-gas, water cannon, baton charges and occasionally live ammunition to put down the protests.

Thirteen people, including academics and civil society activists were detained last month over what the prosecutors said their role in the organisation of the protests. Twelve of the detainees were later released with travel bans, while Yiğit Aksakoğlu, a civil society activists working with children, was officially arrested.