State-run TRT fires actor over appearance in Berkin Elvan video

An actor who was among the cast of a TV series aired on state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) said he was fired over his recent appearance on a video clip which called on the Turkish public to mark the death of Berkin Elvan, a teenager who died after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by the police during the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

Hamit Demir, who appeared in 13 episodes of the TV series quotDirilii-Ertuirulquot (Resurrection-Ertuirul), which is about the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, announced on his Twitter account that his contract with TRT was cancelled after he took part in the video clip where a group of Turkish artists asked who the killer of Elvan is. The death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan in March last year after nine months in a coma sparked Turkey’s worst unrest since nationwide anti-government demonstrations in June 2013. Stating that the government is trying to “tame” artists and all opponents by “starving” them, Demir said he is only proud of taking part in the video clip. Days before the first year anniversary of the death of Elvan, a group of famous Turkish artists were featured in the video clip called quotStop the Life for Berkin Elvan.quot In the video clip, the artists — ranging from singers to movie actors — are seen saying that quotI’m Berkin Elvanquot and quotwhere is my killer?quot

Elvan, then 14, got caught up in street battles in Istanbul on June 16 while going to buy bread for his family. He was hit in the head by what is believed to be a police gas canister, slipped into a coma and became a rallying point for government opponents, who held regular vigils at the hospital where he lay in intensive care.

After his death, riot police used water cannon, tear gas and rubber pellets to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets of Turkey’s largest cities chanting quotEverywhere is Berkin, everywhere is resistance.quot

Famous artists including Levent uzumcu, Tarik Akan and Mustafa Altioklar, were recently called to testify before prosecutors for taking part in the video clip.