Opening Space for Kurds in Turkey: From Banned Concerts to Films


Basnews -ERBIL – Although Turkey in the last century spared no efforts to eliminate the Kurdish language and culture, the Kurds have been successful in preserving their identity throughout history. Moreover, Ankara has even decided to lift the ban on a famous Kurdish film which had been prevented from being on screen for political rivalries. The new policy came after the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani visited the country.

Back in 2002, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party came in power and made several promises to the Kurdish, including that the Kurdish language will be spoken alongside Turkish. A strategy which was believed to be a way for the Turkish party to win the hearts and minds of the Kurdish residents.

In 2005, Erdogan said in a public speech in Diyarbakir that “there is a Kurdish case in Turkey, and this case should be solved by the AK Party.” Kurdish singers, after that, began to make new songs, writers started to publish their books in Kurdish, and certain newspapers were allowed to be published in Kurdish language, including Bas Newspaper.

In 2003, Jwan Hajo, a famous Kurdish singer in Turkey, organized a concert in Batman city and he was the only singer to be officially allowed to sing in Kurdish language. Turkish media said at the time that around 300,000 fans joined the concert.

After the concert, Hajo was asked during an interview with Vatan Newspaper why he had never done any concerts in the Turkish Kurdistan before, and he replied that the political rivalry had limited his musical life, explaining that the “Kurdish language and music were not allowed at that time, but Turkey has changed now.”

Turkish media outlets, as well, paid a great attention to the concert, the “racist” people criticized the Turkish government and argued that this was a recognition to the Kurdish nation.

AK Party in 2008, took another big step towards by opening a Kurdish satellite TV channel as the language had not been allowed prior to that.

The Turkish party in the same year, decided to allow Kurdish singers from the Kurdistan Region to publish their products in Turkey.

Dar Elbise (tight dress), made by the well-known Turkish Kurdish filmmaker, Hubar Salim, has recently been allowed to be on screen after several years of prevention. It was shown by Star TV and received great attention.

The Kurdish film was produced in 2016 which was one of the best works of Salim. However, it was banned from being shown on screen as it was focused on the Kurdish culture and language.

The AK Party, after losing the local elections in Istanbul which happened last week, is apparently attempting to win back the hearts and minds of the Kurds once again.

The largest opposition party in Turkey, CHP, has called for the right of the Kurds to be able to study in their mother tongue.


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