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As far as Nûdem is concerned, it is perfectly clear the government does not have the slightest bit of evidence that she is a violent criminal. There is no evidence in support of this. She did nothing other than teach children how to play the guitar and composed and sang songs about her country. She is a Kurd.

In an interview to the magazine Rolling Stone, this is what Roger Waters, guitarist and soloist of the legendary musical group Pink Floyd, said concerning the young musician from Cizre, Nûdem Durak to whom he recently sent his guitar.

A journalist friend who had done a reportage with Nûdem just before her incarceration told us “she’s a youngster with no other concern than to sing and to play the guitar, and given the climate in Cizre, someone I would describe as apolitical.”

There is simply no point in mentioning the fact that not a single voice has been raised among artists in Turkey concerning the solidarity campaign for Nûdem, one in which Roger Waters has been involved for quite a while and in which he has also associated world-famous musicians. After all, “she is  a Kurd” and the shadow of “dangerosity”, of “suspicion” the State has created around Kurds does not even disappear with their death.

So what is Nûdem’s crime?

In the Cizre district of the town of Şırnak, with a small group of friends, Nûdem Durak produced music at the cultural center Mem û Zin, and sang songs with her crystal-clear voice. As is the case for many Kurds, she is registered on public records as born on the 1st of January in 1988. When she was taken into custody on March 14 2010, and then incarcerated, she was all of 22 years old.

What is she accused of?

As Waters says, if truth be told, “she is a Kurd” and according to what can be discovered in her file, apart from this essential crime, there is not the lightest piece of evidence justifying keeping her in prison for years.

In fact, judging by the 2013 decision of Diyarbakır’s Penal Tribunal N°4, following a perfectly scandalous judiciary procedure, she was punished with 10 and half years of prison, at a young age, as if this was meant to ensure she would never  get over it! Bear in mind these dates of Nûdem’s arrest and of the tribunal’s decision, because we will get back to them

In reality, Nûdem, or to use her official name of Rahmete Durak, was liberated 7 months later under provisional release, following her first arrest, and the thought of fleeing did not even cross her mind, because she knew she was innocent and saw those “miserable 7 months” as something that could happen to anyone in Cizre, as a nightmare that had ended, leaving her free to pursue her artistic activities, to go on meeting with her friends, strumming her guitar, and dreaming.

What did she dream of?  Excerpted from a reportage she gave in 2015: “I always dreamed of owning a guitar. My mother had a gold wedding band. Since I couldn’t afford to buy a guitar, my mother gave me this ring. She said: ‘Go, sell this ring and buy a guitar.’ To own a guitar… it was as if I had been offered the world.”

But that world was snatched away from her shortly afterwards. Nûdem explains: “My lawyer called me and said ’your sentence has been confirmed.’ I was stupefied, I thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it was true. It wasn’t one year, two years, but 10 and a half years of prison.”

Yes, exactly 10,5 years of prison! What’s more, following the decision of another ongoing trial, this sentence was then raised to 19 years and Nûdem has been in prison since 2015.

Yes, but what crime did Nûdem commit?

In the 113 pages of the file from Diyarbakır’s Penal Tribunal N°4, dating from 2013 (which is to say deep in the period of “resolution 1),Nûdem’s name, that is “Rahmete Durak” is only mentioned in 5 places. The only evidence against Durak carrying a sentence of 10,5 years concerns two messages sent to a friend on December 2009 (which is to say during the Oslo talks between the Turkish State and the PKK! 2), Durak  is said to have written: “If I didn’t love him, if I wasn’t in love with him, why would I suffer? Is it easy to face the organisation and to say I am in love with him?”

The Tribunal interpreted this message from Nûdem as proof of “belonging to the organisation”. Here is the excerpt from the decision, as it is stated:

“(…) it was determined these were sentimental messages but the words of Rahmete DURAK “S IT EASY TO FACE THE ORGANISATION AND TO SAY I AM IN LOVE WITH HIM” describe the functioning of the organisation and when one examines relationships between men and women within the terrorist organisation PKK/KONGRA-GEL 3, it is observed that sentimental relationships are forbidden between members of the organisation, particularly between those who operate as active militants, that the organisation is against them because they cause alterations, that those who behave in this way go against decisions of the organisation sanctioned by the organisation and that the cadres of the organisation fearing the organisation live this type of relationship in hiding and secretly.”

When we called Rojhat Dilsiz, President of the Bar in Şırnak to ask for information on the Durak trial and read him the motivated decision he had sent us, we couldn’t believe our eyes. “That’s all?” we asked. Dilsiz answered “Yes, that’s all” and added “but Nûdem is not the only one, most of the people were sentenced to prison, following KCK operations 4 conducted at that time. Why are you surprised? We see countless such decisions every day.”

Of course, Nûdem, a young woman from a modest Kurdish family, was politically aware and she wanted Kurds to live freely and obtain equality, which was reflected in her songs.  Quite clearly, her extraordinarily beautiful voice was perceived at least by some local State officials who had heard it with their own ears, and the decision was taken to extinguish that light, before it shone any brighter. In other words, it is probable that behind the decision of long-term imprisonment for Nûdem there also lurks the aim of subduing her voice  which was likely to shine even brighter.

Earlier we mentioned the date of Nûdem’s first arrest in 2010. This is the period when Gülenists 5 quickly organised within the judiciary system and, beginning on September 12 of the same year, were also seriously involved in the power structure of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). In fact, the three names signing  the decision of Diyarbakır’s Penal Tribunal N°4 , condemning Nûdem, figure on the list of judges and prosecutors later dismissed or judged in the FETÖ trials.  If these are not homonyms, the President of the tribunal, Ahmet Aydın, its members İbrahim Özbek and Mustafa Akgül are among those suspended, dismissed or imprisoned following the attempted coup d’Etat on July 15 2016 [Note :these lists were widely circulated in the media].

Nûdem was sentenced to 10,5 years of prison in 2013, and her sentence was confirmed in 2014. In other words, this is the period of the “resolution process” and Gülenists at that time were insisting that an end be put to it!

You know, following the July 15th attempted coup d’Etat, previous operations such as Ergenekon, Balyoz, etc were renamed “set ups”, the verdicts rendered in the trials related to them were revised, but the trials of the KCK, conducted by the same teams and methods were excluded from the revision.

Consequently, the cases of thousands of people such as Nûdem, arrested and condemned in the framework of KCK operations, were left to the verdicts pronounced by the Gülenists. In other words, following the attempted coup d’Etat,  the Gülenists who imprisoned these people, were imprisoned in neighbouring cells while the condemnations of those people whose fate they had decided were not even re-examined. Because they were Kurds. What other explanation could there be?

Getting back to Nûdem’s trial, let’s lend an ear to Dilsiz: “On 05.03.2013 in file n° 2010/6371, a verdict of a total of 10,5 years of emprisonment was pronounced against Nûdem, and this sentence was approved and finalised on 18.12.2014. Execution of the sentence then began and an arrest warrant issued against Nûdem. At that time, we introduced an individual appeal before the constitutional Tribunal. This appeal was later rejected. We took the matter up to the European Court of Human Rights but there have been no results so far.” 

Why is Nûdem punished?

Dilsiz continues: “Nûdem worked as a vocal artist at the Mem û Zin cultural center which carried out cultural activities in Cizre. This center had no political activities whatsoever and all its ventures were in the cultural and artistic fields. But as these activities were carried out in Kurdish, everything they did was considered illegal. In parallel to KCK operations, others were also carried out on staff of institutions actively participating in artistic activities, such as Nûdem. And her name was also added to the files. As with all classic files pertaining to the KCK, confidential phone recordings were done, declarations received from ‘secret witnesses’» and press conferences to which they had participated were also included in the file as evidence. She was sentenced to 10,5 years. Although there was no content in the file indicating criminal elements in the judicial sense, the verdict was taken hastily for the political motives of the time, then confirmed by the Supreme Court. »

Don’t be fooled, that to which thousands of Kurds such as Nûdem have been subjected, is not an adventure that began with the Gülenists, so as to put an end to the “resolution process” and pursue the hunt against the Kurds, one that would now be ended [Note: with the end of the regime’s alliance with Gülen]… Last week, in an article tilted “The vengance of the Vengeance of the vengeance of the vengeance” and published by the newspaper Evrensel, Tugay Bek, the lawyer in another case, mentioned a recent one that surpasses the verdict pronounced against Nûdem Durak.

A user of social networks by the name of Kader Duman was sentenced to 8 months and 10 days in prison for “apology of crime and criminals” following his sharing  of an anti-war and non-violent article titled Vengeance of the vengeance of the vengeance that I had written following the attack by TAK 6 on December 10 2016. Some 10 hours following this first sharing for having written “Well done!” on his account, following a family argument! And the Court of appeal also confirmed this verdict.

Yet, it appears that during the trial, the tribunal had no need to read my article shared by Duman, nor even to include it in the file, except for the title which appears in the accusation. Because, had they done so, the article would have revealed itself as opposed to violence from beginning to end, and it would have been impossible to condemn Kader Duman. But, as for Nûdem, because he is a Kurd, Kader can be considered as having supported the attack and be condemned for writing “Well done!”, a comment totally unrelated to the attack committed two days earlier.

When I read the article by lawyer Tugay Bek in Evrensel, honestly, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. Telling myself there had to be something else to it, I requested the file from Tugay Bek. In it, there is nothing, but nothing, to justify the condemnation!

It is so obvious that no motive is looked for in order to sentence someone to prison, beside the fact he or she is Kurdish. Every lawyer we have questioned has been very surprised by our surprise and repeated the words of Rojhat Dilsiz: “We encounter dozens of similar verdicts every day!” 

In short, not a single voice is raised in Turkey to participate in this campaign led by Roger Waters, a man who has never met Nûdem in his whole life, but simply heard her. And Kader Duman’s Kurdicity became his destiny (Note: in Turkish, Kader means Destiny).

What is frightening is that no one in this country, except for the Kurds, raises the slightest objection to this destiny.

İrfan Aktan


İrfan Aktan began in journalism in 2000 on Bianet. He has worked as a journalist, a correspondent or an editor for l’Express, BirGün, Nokta, Yeni Aktüel, Newsweek Türkiye, Birikim, Radikal, birdirbir.org, gazete.com, Duvar. He was the Ankara representative for IMC-TV. He is the author of two books: “Nazê/Bir Göçüş Öyküsü” (Nazê/A tale of exodus ), “Zehir ve Panzehir: Kürt Sorunu” (Poison and antidote: The Kurdish Question). He presently writes for l’Express, Al Monitor, Artı Gerçek.

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Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges
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