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Kavur speaks to AA about The Times letter

Fuad Kavur, who organized the signing of an open letter to Turkish PM Erdogan that portrayed him as a dictator, told the AA the purpose was “to criticize and raise awareness”

Kavur speaks to AA about The Times letter

LONDON (AA) - Film maker Fuad Kavur spoke to the Anadolu Agency on Tuesday about an open letter to Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan published last week in The Times.

Kavur said his contribution to the letter amounted to bringing the 30 signatories to agree and signing it himself.

“What we, and I personally, wanted was to criticize and raise awareness. We have no other objective beyond that,” he told the AA correspondent.

The letter has been met with criticism from the Turkish government, with Erdogan saying he might sue The Times.

Kavur said their purpose with the letter was not to attack the elected prime minister and his government.

"In a democratic country, an elected leader can only leave through election, and imagining it any other way is a total mistake,” he said.

The idea for the letter occurred to him while he was in the US two months ago, Kavur said, when the protests were still going on.

Kavur said he was surprised at how interested US networks were in the protests. Upon seeing the letter on the New York Times, Kavur thought something similar could be done in England, an idea he shared with historian Andrew Mango, author of a biography of Modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

"Mango was also upset with these events and I suggested writing a letter and asked him whether he would sign or not,” Kavur said.

“Mango said yes and we began to work on a rough draft. We, as the thirty signatories, were not able to meet and write it together, but this is a text that came about through the concerted effort of thirty people, who helped shape it by way of discussions and consultations."

- 'Ready to account for it'

Kavur said the Britain branch of the Ataturkist Thought Association raised funds via social media websites to publish the letter, and the funding was achieved in the space of two weeks.

"There are about 500,000 Turks here; that’s a large number. The letter in New York had cost 65,000 USD and the money had been gathered in two hours.

“Here, it was done in two weeks, mostly by the Ataturkist Thought Association. The sum was 12,000 pounds, or 25,000 USD. They were the ones who gave it to The Times. I wasn’t involved.”

Kavur said he was “ready to account for what I did if this event is taken to court”.

“If I was wrong, it is my fault, but this is my opinion. To me, this [letter] is not an insult, but a reality.

“Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. I said what I saw, in the way I felt it.”

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan “would have gone down in Turkey’s history as a fairly positive figure, but for the Gezi Park protests,” Kavur said.

“Our country has seen many coups d'etat in the Republic era. It is a real accomplishment that our prime minister [Erdogan] prevented further military coups by affirming the designation of the army as an institution that protects strictly against external threats,” Kavur said.

The open letter, published by The Times as an advert on July 24, is a critique of what its authors call “heavy handed clamp down” of police forces on Gezi Park protesters. It is undersigned by 30 people, an elite list that includes Oscar winning actors, authors and academics.

Erdogan said he would “pursue legal means” for the letter against the British daily, while EU Minister Egemen Bagis called the letter a “hate crime” and “crime against humanity.”

Fuad Kavur was born in Istanbul in 1950 and has lived in England for 50 years. He is currently working on an Ataturk biopic, produced by Anthony Wayne, who also produced Bond movies. 

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