Turkey’s Artists Decry ‘Devious and Authoritarian’ Prime Minister

Turkish artist Ali Kazma.

Members of Turkey’s artistic community are speaking out against their government, which had censored social media channels prior to the recent local elections, reports the Art Newspaper.

“In all matters that deal with freedom of expression the government has acted very heavy-handedly,” Istanbul-based contemporary art dealer Kerimcan Guleryuz told TAN, citing the number of imprisoned journalists as sign of the deteriorating circumstances.

Turkey’s most recent Venice Biennale representative, Ali Kazma, has gone one step further, publishing an essay titled “Something Rotten in the Republic of Turkey” that criticizes the re-elected prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his “corruption, clamps on personal freedoms, internet censorship, and devious and authoritarian use of his power.”

Erdogan’s ban of Twitter was declared illegal by Ankara constitutional court on April 2, and Turkish telecoms authorities lifted the restriction two days later. The government has also blocked access to YouTube, as reported by Alarabiya.

According the Hyperallergic, the crackdown only appears to be tightening, with expanded powers for the National Intelligence Organization that allow the government to conduct wiretaps without a court order.

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