A documentary film called “Love will Change the Earth” tells the story of resistance against state repression during the Gezi Park protests of June 2013 in Turkey. The director Reyan Tuvi has worked on scenes recorded at the ground-zero in real-time protests and reflected on the multicultural atmosphere in Gezi Park during the uprising, telling the story of different characters who have contributed to the struggle for the sake of life styles that they dream of and to change their destiny.
Yet, when the film was brought before the primary jury and got approved as one of the 15 finalists, it was taken off the shortlist due to legal concerns. The explanation stated that the film violates articles 125 and 299 of Turkish Penal Code.
The quoted articles read as such;
1) Anyone who undermining the honour, dignity or respectability of another person or who attacks a person’s honour by attributing to them a concrete act or a fact, or by means of an insult shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three months to two years, or punished with a judicial fine. In order to convict for an insult made in the absence of the victim, the act must have been witnessed by at least three persons.
(2) If the act is committed by means of a spoken, written or visual message addressing the victim, the perpetrator shall be sentenced to the penalties set out above.
(3) If the offence of insult is committed:
a) against a public official in connection with their duty;
b) in response to the expression of religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, in response to an individual’s changing or attempting to propagate their religious, political, social, philosophical beliefs, thoughts and opinions, or in response to an individual’s compliance with the requirements and prohibitions of their religion;
c) by reference to the holy values of a person’s religion, the penalty shall be not less than one year.
(4) (Amended by Law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) Where the offence of insult was committed in public, the penalty shall be increased by one sixth.
(5) (Amended by law 5377 of 29 June 2005 /Article 15) In the case of insults to public officials in connection with their efforts working as a committee, the offence shall be deemed to have been committed against all committee members. In such a case, the provisions related to concatenated offences shall be applied.
(1) Anyone who insults the President of the Republic shall be imprisoned for a term of from one to four years.
(2) (Amended by Law 5377 dated 29 June 2005/Article 35) Where the offence is committed in public, the sentence shall be increased by one sixth.
(3) Initiation of a prosecution for this offence shall be subject to authorization by the Minister of Justice.
Members of the primary jury also read out a press statement telling public at large that they consider this act of bringing the film under penal code investigation serves for censorship purposes. When even the jury declares this kind of action as censorship, there is not much to be debated on the side of the state representatives.
The primary jury’s statement is as follows:
“As the jury of 51st Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, Competition for National Documentary, out of all the lists of films, we have selected 15 films for the finals and notified the festival management. We then came to learn that one of the films have been disqualified for the reason that it violates two clauses of the Turkish Penal Code, articles 125 and 299 with its content.
We, the primary jury, consider this kind of an action as censorship; a film to be disqualified from the shortlist due to its investigation through Turkish Penal Code. Even though we have shared with the festival management that this is unacceptable and we requested the situation to be corrected, these concerns and request have been discarded. We thus declare here that we do not recognize such censorship and neither do we want to be part of it.”
Currently there are still hundreds of thousands of websites, books, films, songs banned in Turkey. And this film about one of the most honorable periods of Turkish history is yet another brick in the wall of censorship. But still, just like we the “internetophiles” had declared when the censorship bill was brought to parliament floor, the primary jury at this film festival also say they do not recognize the censorship.