Free Speech

Administrative court holds hearing for the lawsuit filed against the ban of Kurdish play Bêrû

İstanbul – İstanbul 10th Administrative Court held a hearing to review the Media and Law Studies Association’s (MLSA) demand for the suspension of the execution of the İstanbul Gaziosmanpaşa District Governorship’s decision to ban the Kurdish play Bêrû.

MLSA lawyers had applied to the İstanbul 2nd Administrative Court for the suspension of the execution of the district governorship’s decision to ban the Kurdish adaptation of Dario Fo’s play, “Bêrû: Klakson Borîzan û Birt” by Teatra Jiyana Nû, hours before its staging at the City Theatres of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Gaziosmanpaşa Stage.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Barış Altıntaş, an audience member, claiming that the decision was a violation of freedom of expression.

İstanbul Gaziosmanpaşa District Governorship did not attend the hearing where MLSA lawyer Zelal Pelin Doğan delivered their statements as to the file. “The play was banned indefinitely. My client is a citizen that intended to see the play. Indefinite bans are considered to be unlawful in terms of their form and aim. Likewise, another theatre company was subjected to a similar ban in 1999, and the European Court of Human Rights had found a violation in its decision titled “Ulusoy and others vs. Turkey,” said Doğan.

The administrative court is expected to make a decision in the coming months.

Case background

On October 13 of last year, the Kurdish adaptation of Dario Fo’s play, “Bêrû: Klakson Borîzan û Birt” by Teatra Jiyana Nû was banned hours before its staging at the City Theatres of İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Gaziosmanpaşa Stage.

İstanbul Gaziosmanpaşa District Governorship banned the Kurdish adaptation of Dario Fo’s play based on the claim that “it could disturb the peace of the public.”

MLSA lawyers carried the ban to the administrative court and emphasized in the petition the fact that the decision to ban the play was in violation of the rights of those who demand to see plays in Kurdish. Moreover, it was claimed that the district governorship’s decision was in violation of the Turkish Constitution, as it constituted the violation of the freedom of expression of both the theatre company, and the members of the audience.

Bêrû was banned for the second time, on November 14, by the Urfa Governorship hours before its staging at the Urfa Bar Association’s Tahir Elçi Conference Hall.