(BIANET/IFEX) - 24 January 2011 - A trial against 16 members of the Beyoglu Troupe of Actors filed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan started on 21 January 2011. The university students are charged with "insult" in connection with the lyrics of a song entitled "The Tayyip Blues". The case heard before the Catalca (Istanbul) Magistrate Criminal Court was adjourned because "the CD with the offending song had not reached the prosecutor".
The students were supported at the first hearing by about 100 people, among them artist Pinar Sag, theatre clubs from several universities and other students.
Selim Gücbilmez, District Chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), was heard as a witness. It was Gücbilmez who initially reported the Beyoglu Troupe to the police.
He stated, "I did not listen to the song. I was informed about it by somebody else and heard about the booing afterwards." The prosecutor had previously decided to drop procedures regarding the alleged "booing" against the Prime Minister.
The trial was postponed to 25 March since the students were not able to attend the Friday hearing because of exams.
Dozens of actors have already joined the signature campaign "Support for the Beyoglu Troupe".
A criminal complaint was launched against the Beyoglu Troupe after the group performed at the "Judas Tree Festival" organised by the Municipality of Catalca in July 2010. One of the characters in the play "From our country" performed the song "The Tayyip Blues". After the performance, Gücbilmez went backstage and apparently threatened the actors.
Beyoglu Troupe members and supporters were taken into custody without a legal basis. Twenty-five people gave statements to the Catalca Prosecution after the complaint was filed. A trial was subsequently launched against 16 members of the troupe.
The Beyoglu Troupe was established in 2007 by students from different universities who were amateur artists and active in music groups. With a focus on current political affairs, they "present a theatrical approach from a leftist perspective".
Troupe members wrote the play "Eleven streets" which they performed several times. Their recent plays, "From our country" and "Blinding", which have also been performed on various occasions, showcase the group's musical development.