Türkçe Yeni Özgür Politika | Français | English

Ded­i­cat­ed to the Kur­dish artist Nûdem Durak, impris­oned since 2015 and who fears nev­er singing again, after being diag­nosed with a tox­ic goitre (a tox­ic goitre is one with hyperthyroidism)

By Bilge Aksu pub­lished on May 19 2022 in Yeni Özgür Politika

If you are among those who, dur­ing a meet­ing with fam­i­ly or friends fall silent when the top­ic veers toward the 90s, it must be because you share the same tongue. As you know, the Turk­ish gen­er­a­tion born in the 80s, seems unit­ed in this respect.

The influ­ence of the era of rapid change and tele­vi­sion that every­one knew in the 70s and the 80s reached our lands in the 90s. I know peo­ple who remem­ber an entire decade in detail, when the top­ic involves pop cul­ture, mag­a­zines, new forms of rela­tion­ships and new celebri­ties. Over the years, chil­dren who grew up in “west­ern” Turkey, along with icon­ic posters of pop fig­ures, tazos, chips, provoca­tive songs, still remem­ber the peri­od in their nos­tal­gic quest.

Per­son­al­ly, I am one of those chil­dren. How­ev­er, prob­a­bly because I came from a class raised in pover­ty, even if we were unable to see life with rose-tint­ed glass­es, we some­times clung to this nos­tal­gia. But most­ly, when we start­ed tak­ing on our polit­i­cal iden­ti­ty, in our ear­ly 20s, there appeared this silence I men­tioned above. Because, if the “west­ern side” of this coun­try offered us a joy­ful child­hood illus­trat­ed by col­or tv icons, no one informed us of what was hap­pen­ing in this “oth­er side”. We became aware of the facts through our own efforts, our curios­i­ty ad most­ly, thanks to our friends who were not from the west or did not behave as such.

The colonial mindset

Dur­ing that dan­ger­ous peri­od, the most impor­tant effort of the Kur­dish Move­ment for free­dom involved pre­serv­ing Kur­dish chil­dren who were extreme­ly open to assim­i­la­tion. When these chil­dren over­came — so to speak — this dark peri­od and began appear­ing in the uni­ver­si­ties, Turkey had not yet stepped out of its peri­od of pro­hi­bi­tions. In the mid­dle of the years 2000, the eman­ci­pa­tion move­ment, dressed in the rhetoric of broth­er­hood pro­mot­ed by the AKP gov­ern­ment, was only in its first expres­sions. The TRT Kur­dî pub­lic chain had only bare­ly begun trans­mis­sion and emi­nent min­is­ters, micro­phones in had, with old-fash­ioned and pedan­tic expres­sions, attempt­ed to announce the exis­tence of a lan­guage called Kur­dish, a lan­guage of which they mas­tered nei­ther the gram­mar nor the pronunciation.

Ensconced in the com­fort of a colo­nial mind­set, with the lux­u­ry of a lack of curios­i­ty for what this cul­ture con­sist­ed of, or of the con­no­ta­tions it evoked, these lead­ers were like the  pre­sen­ters of a strange fes­ti­val of eman­ci­pa­tion, led in an awk­ward and con­de­scend­ing way. Yet, despite the appear­ance of the tvs, the pro­hi­bi­tions and oppres­sions con­tin­ued cease­less­ly in the back­grounds. The Kur­dish lan­guage, not accept­ed for state­ments before the courts, for exam­ple, became in the micro­phone of İbrahim Tatlıs­es1a tear­ful and pathet­ic lament. At the same time, the tongue was still ban­ished dur­ing the first four years of pri­ma­ry school in Bakur2. This penal­ized Kur­dish chil­dren from the onset of their edu­ca­tion. This for­bid­den tongue, through the micro­phone of Şivan Per­v­er, lulled the Erdoğan fam­i­ly and Turkey in a melan­cholic happiness.

nudem durak

In such cir­cum­stances, a polit­i­cal con­scious­ness car serve as a life saver. It was with such a polit­i­cal con­scious­ness that it became pos­si­ble not to be car­ried off into this fes­ti­val of eman­ci­pa­tion the strange­ness of which was spread­ing every­where. This staged spec­ta­cle did not last in the long run. Giv­en the fact that the Kur­dish move­ment was gain­ing vis­i­bil­i­ty and sup­port at all lev­els of soci­ety, the Turk­ish State with its Lord and Mas­ter atti­tude began reclaim­ing every one of the oppor­tu­ni­ties it had “offered”.

The regime tightens the noose

If we assess the results today in Turkey, most of the writ­ers, jour­nal­ists, polit­i­cal fig­ures and artists in prison are Kur­dish. As of last week, we seem to have entered into a new phase of this pol­i­cy of oppres­sion. Activ­i­ties by artists well accept­ed by soci­ety, such as Aynur Doğan and Metin-Kemal Kahra­man were for­bid­den one after the oth­er. The play “Don Kixot” at the Amed City The­ater also encoun­tered its share of pro­hi­bi­tions. Of course, oth­er peo­ple are includ­ed in this car­a­van. Erdoğan’s regime, know­ing it has noth­ing but a shot­gun for the elec­tions sched­uled for next year, is delib­er­ate­ly tight­en­ing the noose. The fes­ti­val is for­bid­den in Eskişe­hir, a pro­hi­bi­tion against noc­tur­nal music is intro­duced under the guise of the pan­dem­ic and pro­longed until 01h00 and, clear­ly, peo­ple are being made fun of when the cloth­ing of well-known fem­i­nine per­son­al­i­ties is loud­ly tak­en to task, when oppo­si­tions is loud­ly crit­i­cized, when cul­tur­al fes­ti­vals cel­e­brat­ing posters and graf­fi­ti orga­nized by town­ships are pro­hib­it­ed, when the arti­cle about a con­cert by the group K‑POP is lynched on social networks…

Intellectuals who can’t stand up

So here we are, in one of those peri­ods when polit­i­cal con­scious­ness saves lives.  The men­tal­ly divid­ed geog­ra­phy of the 90s which I evoked at the begin­ning of this arti­cle seems to show a ten­den­cy at divid­ing anew in the face of these all-out attacks. If, in such a peri­od, the fact of pro­tect­ing a youth fes­ti­val turns into a his­tor­i­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty, the same enthu­si­asm does not appear for voic­es com­ing “from afar”. Sol­lic­i­tude envelops Aynur, Metin-Kemal, at least for those with media vis­i­bil­i­ty,  there exists a pro­tec­tive reflex. But we do not see this same emo­tion, for exam­ple, for young groups such as Stêr­ka Kar­wan who, in the most recent news, was dropped form the pro­gram at the spring fes­ti­val  at Eren Uni­ver­si­ty in Bitlis, or again for Nûdem Durak, who has been in prison for years and for whom sev­er­al well-known “Occi­den­tal” musi­cians have voiced sup­port.

We have a prob­lem in Turkey with an intel­lec­tu­al milieu where peo­ple do not stand up, the way Roger Waters of Pink Floyd did, who offered his gui­tar to Nûdem Durak, along with his open sup­port. The only way now would be to con­front the fas­cist cur­rent attack­ing us, with­out tak­ing shel­ter in  the cho­sen igno­rance of the 90s, with­out tak­ing to the shad­ows, or wan­der­ing in the wilderness…

If we pull it off, we might deserve to see Nûdem and Waters on the same stage in Turkey.

Bilge Aksu 

Cov­er image: Nûdem Durak by Mahn Kloix
You can also skim through Dossier Spé­cial Nûdem Durak, on Kedistan.

Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges

Sup­port Kedis­tan, MAKE A CONTRIBUTION.

We maintain the “Kedistan tool” as well as its archives. We are fiercely committed to it remaining free of charge, devoid of advertising and with ease of consultation for our readers, even if this has a financial costs, covered up till now by financial contributions (all the authors at Kedistan work on a volunteer basis).
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.
KEDISTAN on EmailKEDISTAN on FacebookKEDISTAN on TwitterKEDISTAN on Youtube
Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.