Story By: Feza Uzay, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
Two Turkish soldiers have been dismissed for holding the brolly over the head of a transgender female singer who was prosecuted over a decade ago for saying she would not send her sons into war if she were a mother.
Bulent Ersoy, 69, a transgender woman and one of the most popular Turkish music singers, nicknamed ‘Diva’ by her fans, visited Anitkabir, the resting place of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, in the Turkish capital city of Ankara on Tuesday (11th January).
With her distinctive throaty voice and flamboyant costumes, she remains one of the country’s most popular singers, but has had more than her fair share of controversy, including when she was banned from stage after the 1980 military coup for having a sex change.
She is now back in the limelight after Turkish officer Colonel Hakan Osman Sert, reportedly the commander at Anitkabir, held an umbrella over the Diva’s head, as can be seen in these images, because it was raining during her visit.
The images were shared online, where they went viral and caused a controversy, with some netizens arguing that it was unbecoming of soldiers to have done this, given her previous comments.
She had been a juror on the local version of talent show Pop Idol, where she suggested that Turkey’s two-decade long fight with the Kurdish separatist PKK was not worth sacrificing a son for.
She said: “Our children keep going there, there’s tears, blood and funerals and still we utter the same cliches… Why can’t we find a solution?”
She was promptly prosecuted for the statement for attempting to “turn the public against military service” contrary to Article 318 of the penal code.
The charges reference the fact that military service is the sacred duty of every Turkish male, with the prosecutor citing the proverb “Every Turk is born a soldier”.
The indictment continued: “In a democracy, informing people, starting a debate, making a call to people to think is not a crime”, but it went on to say that what she had said amounted to deliberate propaganda against the military.
She made the claim in February 2008 when Turkey was four days into a major incursion into northern Iraq.
She was backed by the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (IHD) in the high-profile case that eventually saw the charges thrown out in December of the same year.
The Turkish Ministry of Defence, which was clearly unimpressed by the recent courtesy shown to the singer, announced that an investigation had been launched into the matter on the same day that the images of her at Anitkabir went viral.
And now, today (14th January), the Ministry of Defence has released a statement announcing that the Anitkabir Commander, Hakan Osman Sert, and an unnamed platoon commander, have been dismissed from their duties.
Ersoy made a statement after the incident saying: “Is the commanders’ dismissal the right thing to do? There was no need for anyone to hold an umbrella for me. If I go there, it doesn’t matter whether it rains, snows or floods.
“I have never made such a request of anyone. Because I already had a hood over my head. He probably just held the umbrella for a short time. How am I involved in this?”
She added: “He held an umbrella even though I didn’t want it or see it. But why does it even matter?”
There has been no statement yet from the dismissed commanders on the subject.