Everyday people in Turkey have increasingly been facing legal charges for their criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government’s policies.
In one of the latest incidents, a YouTube creator who conducted a street interview about the recent resignation of the country’s finance minister, and a citizen who answered his questions, have been summoned for questioning by the police as part of an investigation into the interview, the creator announced on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Erdoğan and former finance minister, resigned on Sunday after the country experienced a currency crisis and double-digit inflation in 2020.
“What he did was on point. Theirs is a family company. The father is the president, the son-in-law is the finance minister. His father-in-law must have guided him. First of all, the dictatorship must go,” the citizen, whose name was not revealed, told the reporter when asked for a comment on Albayrak’s resignation.
“The whole country is out of whack. He [Erdoğan] has 13 planes in Ankara, he sleeps in a 1150-room palace, he has another palace near Lake Van, his son has ships and he feeds his cronies with taxpayer money,” the interviewee said.
The influencer, nicknamed Kendine Muhabir, who uses his YouTube channel with 48,800 subscribers to share videos of street interviews on Turkish politics, tweeted on Tuesday that the police summoned him for questioning over the incident and said the person he interviewed was called in as well.
“Why would handing a microphone to people and their ideas being heard disturb anybody?” the creator asked in the tweet.
İsmail Demirbaş, another citizen who criticized the government over its crackdown on dissent in October on the same YouTube channel, was also twice taken into police custody after being detained in late-night raids.
On Wednesday, Demirbaş was arrested and put in pretrial detention, according to a report by the Gazete Duvar news website.
On Wednesday Malik Yılmaz, a truck driver who was detained and fired from his job for criticizing the government response to the pandemic in a TikTok video, tweeted that he had attended the first hearing of a trial in which he faces charges of “incitement to disobey the law.”
“Stay home. How can I?. I’m not retired, a civil servant or a rich person. I am a worker. I am a truck driver. If I don’t work, there’s no bread for me. I can’t pay my utility bills or my rent,” Yılmaz said in March.
“The virus may not kill me, but this scheme of yours definitely will,” he added, a line that went viral on social media at the time.