Film about murder of Turkish singer 'Bergen' canceled in southern city

A district municipality in Turkey’s south has removed the film screening of ‘Bergen,’ while riot police were reportedly present at its movie premiere in Istanbul upon threats by the murderer of the Turkish singer Bergen.

Duvar English

Riot police were reportedly present at the film premiere of “Bergen,” which tells the story of a famous Turkish singer who was murdered by her ex-husband, in Istanbul and the film’s screening has been canceled in the Kozan district of the southern province of Adana where her perpetrator lives freely.

The screening of the film, which depicts the tragic life of Belgin Sarılmışer, more commonly known as “Bergen,” was taken down in Kozan by the district municipality, journalist Candaş Tolga Işık said on his Twitter account on March 4.

Kozan Mayor Kazım Özgan cited violence as a reason behind the cancellation of the screening.

“There is violence here. Why should I make my children explain this violence? Why should they pay attention to this?... I don’t find them learning about this right. A film like this will not be screened in the district [Kozan],” Özgan reportedly told Demirören News Agency.

Işık also said that riot police were present at the Istanbul gala of the film reportedly due to threats made against the film’s producers, who reportedly have police protection.

Bergen was 30 when she was killed by her ex-husband, Halis Serbest, on Aug. 14, 1989, while on tour to promote her album in Adana’s Pozantı district.

Serbest and Bergen divorced after she wanted to return to the stages to Serbest’s dismay. Serbest had asked her to stop performing and singing because it did not “suit” his family values.

In 1982, Serbest instigated throwing acid at Bergen’s face when she was on stage in the western province of İzmir. Bergen suffered damage to both her eyes and a large part of her body. She was left permanently blind in her right eye. For many years later, she covered her right eye and the right side of her face with a long side fringe or wore sunglasses.

Serbest escaped immediately after murdering Bergen, but was later caught and he received a sentence of one year and three months in prison. But he only served seven months in jail before he was set free.

The issue comes only a few days before March 8 International Women’s Day in a country where femicide is endemic. So far in 2022, 72 women were murdered by violent men, according to Anit Sayac, which keeps a tally of femicide in Turkey.

Women’s rights in Turkey dealt a major blow on July 1, 2021, when Turkey formally exited the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe treaty that obligates signatories to fight femicide and violence against women. In 2021 alone, 417 women died at the hands of men.