Actor Levent Uzumcu faces dismissal from İstanbul City Theaters over criticism of gov’t
Actor Levent Uzumcu faces dismissal from İstanbul City Theaters over criticism of gov’t
Actor Levent Üzümcü has been referred to the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality's disciplinary board for dismissal from the İstanbul City Theaters, reportedly because of a series of statements and speeches he made that were critical of the government. Üzümcü said the request for his dismissal from the İstanbul City Theaters had been delivered to the municipality's disciplinary board. "Our friends wanted to discuss the matter with [Mayor] Kadir Topbaş but this is beyond Topbaş, as well," he told the website of Hürriyet daily in comments about the news. According to Üzümcü, a decision to dismiss him could mean that he would no longer be able to serve as a public servant at city theaters. News reports have said the actor was referred to the disciplinary board because of a speech he delivered at a Socialist International meeting in 2013, as well as statements made to the media and posts he shared on his social media accounts. "This is an international scandal," Üzümcü told Hürriyet. "Socialist International is a respected organization bringing together representatives from countries all over the world. Where did I insult anyone? Whom did I insult?" he asked. Üzümcü gave a passionate speech at the 2013 event and harshly criticized the government for its heavy-handed crackdown on the protesters during Gezi Park demonstrations, which began as a sit-in against plans to demolish a city park and quickly turned into massive anti-government protests across Turkey. Üzümcü has said previously that he stands behind what he said in the Socialist International speech in 2013 and argues that he was referred to the disciplinary board for dismissal from his post because the aim is to intimidate other artists with dissident views. The Gezi Park protests, the largest in the nation's history, erupted at end of May 2013 over government plans to destroy a park located in the Taksim district of İstanbul and build a replica of an Ottoman military barracks in its place. After a violent police response, the demonstrations then turned into broad anti-government protests, revealing nationwide displeasure over the regression of democracy and human rights in the country, as well as discontent with government policies. The protests attracted worldwide media coverage and elicited criticism from many of Turkey's western allies including the US and the European Union.
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