Bakırköy Public Prosecutor Ali Çakır indicted Bülent Ersoy, a transsexual singer and a popular TV host, on grounds that her remarks had the purpose of “making the public detest military service,” a crime under the Turkish Penal Code (TCK). The indictment states that Turks place great importance on military service and referred to the saying “Every Turk is born a soldier.” After 10 citizens contacted the Bakırköy court, Public Prosecutor Ali Çakır launched a probe against Ersoy, who now faces trial for acting against the first and second clauses of Article 318 of the TCK, which carry a three-year prison term.
In his indictment, the public prosecutor also argued that Ersoy’s remarks had provocative intentions. “Considering the words she used as a whole, these remarks were made while the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] were conducting a ground offensive in northern Iraq and when the Turkish society’s sensitivity toward military service and soldiers had reached a peak. Her remarks were aimed at discouraging people from sending their sons to military service. For this reason Ersoy was praised by Roj TV, known as the media organ of the PKK. Some were encouraged by her statements and called on the Turkish society to not send its sons to military service under these circumstances, claiming that Turkish soldiers were martyred in a meaningless war in northern Iraq.”
Ersoy’s statements not covered by freedom of expression
Public Prosecutor Çakır said Ersoy’s statements cannot be considered as falling within the scope of articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, which govern freedom of expression. He added that she spoke in a way that discouraged Turkish soldiers fighting against PKK terrorists in northern Iraq. “It is inevitable that Ersoy’s statements were very effective considering they were broadcast all over the country simultaneously and that she is a well-known singer. During her speech she went beyond the limits of free expression and criticism and urged people not to send their sons to military service. She later spoke to the media and said she did not regret her statement and that it was made deliberately. For this reason I demand in the name of the public that Bülent Ersoy be tried for making the public detest military service.”
Ersoy had said on a television show aired earlier this year that if she had a son, she would not let him fight in other people’s wars. The singer said people were always making clichéd statements about slain soldiers without giving much thought to how to end the conflict.