Français Regards | English | Castellano

While the stu­dent mobi­liza­tion inten­si­fies in its face-off with Erdoğan’s pow­er, while over 700 arrests have been car­ried out in pro-Kur­dish set­tings, writ­ers Joseph Andras and Kaoutar Harchi speak to us about Nûdem Durak, impris­oned for the past six years for… singing.

At the foot of the wall. “The snow falls on our moun­tains / Our moun­tains turn white.” The voice speak­ing these words is both soft and con­fi­dent. It mod­u­lates between a few grave notes and high­er ones. The voice stops on a syl­la­ble, rush­es on the next one, each inflec­tion sure, each effort con­tained. The melody ris­es from the ampli­tude of the breath: through the inter­min­gling of free sounds that make their way to us. And reach us.

But there is no song with­out Nûdem singing.

Nûdem Durak, let’s remem­ber her, frail and long-limbed, who walked in the streets of her vil­lage in south­east­ern Turkey. Her moth­er, her father were there, rest­ing against the door­jamb of the mod­est fam­i­ly home. They could see Nûdem walk­ing toward them and their heart undoubt­ed­ly start­ed rac­ing: their daugh­ter would soon greet them, embrace them before hug­ging them both against her. Then, she would pass the thresh­old, set­tle at the cen­tre of the com­mon room, on the ground and, tak­ing hold of her gui­tar, she would add music to the plea­sure of being together.

A sim­ple gui­tar made of light wood that Nûdem long thought she would nev­er be able to afford. A gui­tar is expen­sive, isn’t it? That was with­out count­ing on her moth­er who, see­ing the insis­tent calls of cre­ation grow­ing in her daugh­ter went out one morn­ing and sold her own wed­ding ring. Then, with her instru­ment under her arm, Nûdem did noth­ing but sing. Nûdem went on stage. Nûdem found­ed her own musi­cal group, Koma Sorxwin. Nûdem taught her young stu­dents in a cul­tur­al cen­ter the tra­di­tion­al music of her peo­ple. Nûdem start­ed prepar­ing an album.

Around her, young men and women gath­ered to sing with one voice the beau­ty of the moun­tains whitened by win­ter. To sing the land, its ances­tral mem­o­ries wound­ed by His­to­ry. To sing the blood shed by all those who hoped that these moun­tains, this land, that Kurds one day would be freed of the yokes of suc­ces­sive Turk­ish governments.

We cel­e­brate peace / Do not weep, my people/Even if they put me in prison / This is our true col­or.” This is what Nûdem was singing short­ly before being thrown in prison. Locked up for the past six years, Nûdem, for hav­ing sung and sup­port­ed, with her voice as only weapon, the resis­tance, the strug­gle, equal­i­ty of the sex­es and social jus­tice. Which is to say, in the words of those in pow­er, “ter­ror­ism”. Because that is how you rec­og­nize pow­er: it takes hold of the alpha­bet and turns it upside down: soon, pow­er will decree that night is upon us while the day will stretch out before our eyes – and we shall see it, the night.

Nûdem attempt­ed to keep our lan­guage alive. Every­one loves her in Cizre.1 She is a phe­nom­e­non here, said her sis­ter Fird­e­vs in 2015. She could have gone to Europe and in oth­er coun­tries, but she did not want to leave Kurdistan.”

Six years then. Already six years. Out of nine­teen – because the singer is sen­tenced to prison until 2034. This is noth­ing oth­er than triv­ial, in Erdoğan’s Turkey: Nûdem Durak is just one cap­tive among so many oth­ers. We should then speak of every one of them, spell out their names, one after the oth­er, relate the slight­est tale, describe all the fam­i­lies; we should not con­demn a sin­gle con­demned one to the dark­ness already embrac­ing him or her. Except it so hap­pened that one per­son, sud­den­ly in the spot­light, allows us to grasp the total­i­ty. Large num­bers slide off us: lists reveal dic­ta­tor­ship but they fail to reach the heart. And to arouse bod­ies accord­ing­ly. So let us say Nûdem Durak in order to say in the same breath the names of all the detainees: writer Ahmet Altan, jour­nal­ist Ned­im Tür­fent, for­mer elect­ed one Ley­la Güven, HDP activists, homo­sex­u­al stu­dents or polit­i­cal lead­ers Sela­hat­tin Demir­taş and Abdul­lah Öcalan. Let us say Nûdem Durak to speak “the cry from pris­ons” evoked by fem­i­nist soci­ol­o­gist in exile, Pınar Selek: that of the tens of thou­sands of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers in Turkey and every­where else.

At this hour, Nûdem finds her­self in a cell in the town of Bay­burt, not far from the Black Sea. There, she counts off the months and the years along­side her com­rades. We know noth­ing about them – so, some­times, we imag­ine their dis­cus­sions, their anger and their bursts of laugh­ter. Those who were lib­er­at­ed all tell us the kind of per­son she is: her strength. Her gui­tar was smashed by the prison staff but the young woman reads, writes and sings. “Nûdem says she has to hold on to life because she has dreams to accom­plish. She tells us she is very tired but adds that she must fight”, her broth­er tells us. Before adding: “As long as this gov­ern­ment will be in place, it seems com­pli­cat­ed for her to be released because there is no jus­tice here, no hon­or. The judges are corrupt.”

At this time while the Turk­ish regime is call­ing for a “nor­mal­iza­tion” of its rela­tions with its French coun­ter­part, the youth in Istan­bul are demon­strat­ing by telling the pow­er in place and its police: “We will not low­er our eyes!”

Of cours, some will go on repeat­ing that none of this is any of our busi­ness. Between 2009 and 2019, a report from the Min­istry of the Armies indi­cat­ed that French indus­tries had received the equiv­a­lent of 594,5 mil­lion euros from Turkey in orders of mil­i­tary mate­r­i­al. As French cit­i­zens, we are called upon; as inter­na­tion­al­ists, we do not ignore nations but we know that noth­ing gives them the right to muf­fle the voice of the just.

Lets us lift our cold bod­ies from the ground / In the chest of the red earth / Let us be the echo of our moth­ers’ songs / As free as songs”, writes the Kur­dish pris­on­er on a sheet of paper. Let us car­ry that lib­er­ty out­side the walls.

Joseph Andras and Kaoutar Harchi

Nûdem Durak LibertéInter­na­tion­al cam­paign “Free Nûdem Durak” 
Face­book Twit­ter Insta­gram YouTube


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Auteur(e) invité(e)
Auteur(e)s Invité(e)s
AmiEs con­tributri­ces, con­tribu­teurs tra­ver­sant les pages de Kedis­tan, occa­sion­nelle­ment ou régulièrement…