Bulent Ersoy (photo from AP) is famous in Turkey as a singer and actor. She was born a man and underwent gender reassignment surgery (that is the politically correct term, right?) and became a woman in 1981. However, this is not her current claim to fame.
Ersoy seemingly criticized Turkish policy with regards to the Kurds and the protracted war that Turkey has engaged in with the separatist Kurds. She had been subpoenaed to appear at an earlier hearing but had failed to appear. This time she did appear as the court made it clear that if she failed to appear in court this time then the court would be forced to ensure that she made an appearance.
The charge is "turning the public against military service". This carries a maximum term of imprisonment of three years if guilty as charged. Ersoy appeared in court in Istanbul on Wednesday and plead her innocence and reaffirmed that she stood by her previous statements. This reaffirmation was that there must be a better way of resolving the Kurdish issue without killing each other. Quite simply, 24 years of separatist fighting has claimed upwards of 40,000 lives and a resolution is still nowhere in sight.
The exact statement was, "I spoke in the name of humanity and even if I am condemned to death, I will repeat the same: we have to find a solution instead of killing each other".
The interest in this case is several fold. However, there are definitely issues of free speech involved.
Turkey is also looking to join the European Union and it will be interesting to see whether there is any talk of free speech and other human rights related issues, particularly in light of the fact that Turkey is seeking to join the EU.
Her statements about not wanting to send one's son off to a stupid war resonate with me. Perhaps even more so now that I will soon be a father and have a son of my own.