Thursday, September 25, 2008
Bulent Ersoy Trial In Turkey
From The Associated Press
September 24, 2008
A transsexual singer charged with illegally criticizing mandatory military service in Turkey said in court Wednesday she would say the same thing again.
Singer Bulent Ersoy has acknowledged saying on television that if she had children she would not want them to join the army to battle Kurdish rebels who are fighting for self-rule.
"I spoke in the name of humanity. Even if I were to face execution, I would say the same thing," the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Ersoy as telling the court in Istanbul.
In Turkey, defendants are not expected to enter a plea before a panel of judges hears testimony at a trial and returns a verdict.
Ersoy questioned the fairness of a law making it a crime to criticize Turkey's mandatory 15-month military service for all men over 20. If found guilty, she could face two years in prison.
Ersoy, 56, who sings traditional Turkish music and dresses in flamboyant gowns, served in the military before her 1981 sex-change operation, her lawyer Muhittin Yuzuak told the court Wednesday.
A small group of pro-Kurdish protesters demonstrated outside the court house in support of the singer, holding a banner that read in Kurdish "Long live Diva."
The European Union, which Turkey wants to join, is pressing the nation to do away with laws that stifle free expression.
Under EU pressure, Turkey amended a law in April that barred the denigration of Turkish identity and institutions. The law had been used to prosecute Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and other intellectuals. But human rights groups said the changes did not go far enough.
Ersoy is one of Turkey's best-loved singers. In February, she made the comment about Turkey's military service while appearing on the jury of a Turkish version of "Pop Idol."
At the time, Turkey had thousands of troops in northern Iraq pursuing rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, who maintain bases there.
In the indictment, prosecutor Ali Cakir accused the singer of "alienating the public toward military service" and affecting the morale of the soldiers and their families. He asked that she be sentenced to between nine and 30 months in prison.
The trial was adjourned until Oct. 30.