Four actors left the production of a play adaptation of a book by Selahattin Demirtaş, pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) former co-chair, after mounting reactions over the play.

The production was intended as a one-off performance and an evening of solidarity for the jailed Demirtaş who has been behind bars on terror charges since November 2016, said director Julide Kural in an interview with news portal Gazete Pencere earlier this week.

She said that she had reached an agreement with three actors who wanted to take part in the play, but left before the debut.

“These people weren’t concerned intellectually, they were worried about being blacklisted and not being able to find a job,” Kural said.

Kural said that she’s familiar with Demirtaş’s case and that there are no valid reasons for his imprisonment, adding that “the legal system is not functioning.”

“Selahattin Demirtaş is not a playwright but he is an important politician for Turkey’s future. I consider him to be a political hostage who is being unjustly held in prison,” Kural said.

Over the weekend, the play in question, based on Demirtaş’ book ‘Devran’ was performed at an Istanbul theater and among the attendees were Demirtaş’ wife Başak, Dilek İmamoğlu, the wife of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, Selvi Kılıçdaroğlu, the wife of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, and veteran actor Kadir İnanır.

The latter was subsequently targeted by name for his attendance by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, in a harshly-worded statement in which Soylu blasted the production.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has led a fierce campaign against the HDP in recent years, stripping dozens of elected mayors from their posts and jailing a number of prominent party figures on terror charges in connection with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK),
which critics say lack legal merit.