Kurdish storytelling tradition takes first steps on long road to UNESCO recognition

As one of the oldest cultural expressions in Mesopotamia, dengbej should be added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage. This is according to opera singer Pervin Chakar, who has started a petition to gather support for and raise awareness about the importance of dengbej, an ancient Kurdish storytelling tradition. Chakar, who is originally Kurdish, lives in Germany and performs all over Europe, told Fanack, “Collecting signatures is only part of the campaign. I want to cooperate with music and cultural institutes to make this happen.”

Continue reading at Fanack!

Selahattin Demirtaş: release order upon release order, but still in jail

Legally speaking, Selahattin Demirtaş should have been freed from prison three times already. Also legally speaking, he shouldn’t have been jailed in the first place.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said so and a Turkish court said so. Despite that, the former co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is not a free man. Meanwhile, on Sept. 18, the ECHR will look at the case again. Demirtaş’s team of lawyers have high expectations for the hearing.

Continue reading on Ahval!

Koerdische parlementariër al meer dan 100 dagen in hongerstaking

(Interview on Dutch radio about the hungerstrike of Kurdish MP Leyla Güven in Turkey.)

Een opmerkelijke wending in het Turks-Koerdische conflict. De Koerdische parlementariër Leyla Güven is al meer dan 110 dagen in hongerstaking. Zij werd in januari 2018 gearresteerd door de Turkse politie op verdenking van het maken van propaganda voor een terroristische organisatie. Inmiddels hebben meer dan 150 Koerden in Turkse gevangenissen, maar ook daarbuiten zich aangesloten bij de hongerstaking. Journaliste Fréderike Geerdink woont in Iraaks-Koerdistan en volgt de zaak op de voet.

Luister het interview hier terug!

Despite brother’s visit, Öcalan remains in isolation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to attack the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Syria, but he also wants his Justice and Development Party (AKP) to perform well in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast in March 31 local elections. The latter goal would not be enhanced if Leyla Güven, a member of parliament for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), dies while on hunger strike in prison.

Continue reading at Ahval.

7 years later, Roboski families cling to fading hope

Veli Encü remembers clearly what he vowed to himself, what all the devastated villagers vowed to themselves on that tragic night seven years ago: they would fight for truth and justice for as long as it took, and never give up.

Encü maintains that vow today, after a year that has been especially difficult for the families who lost their sons and husbands to Turkish army bombs on Dec. 28, 2011.

After years of failed court cases in Turkey, they took their case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) – and were rejected. “Still, we will not give up until those responsible for the massacre are punished,” says Encü, the spokesperson for the families seeking justice for their lost loved ones since that tragic night.

Continue reading at Ahval.

De bus naar Koerdistan

‘Stay on the fucking bus.’ Zo begon ik eens een lezing tijdens een journalistiek symposium in Amsterdam. Volgens mij schrok een deel van het publiek een beetje: wat zegt ze nu?! Dus die had ik meteen weer wakker, zo aan het eind van de middag na een reeks andere sprekers. Stay on the fucking bus, een beter advies is er niet voor zelfstandig werkende creatieven. Mijn bus, die zette eind 2011, begin 2012 koers naar Koerdistan. Dus daar ben ik nu, na ruim een jaar Nederland, weer terug.

Dit is mijn derde column voor Frontaal Naakt sinds ik onlangs besloot er met regelmaat te gaan publiceren. In deze column leest u waarom! Lees verder op Frontaal Naakt.

Thirty-five years on, no political solution for Kurdish-Turkish conflict

Rage engulfed Turkey in late July 2018 when a woman and her 11-month-old son were killed, reportedly by a roadside bomb, after leaving an army base in the south-eastern province of Hakkari. The woman had paid a surprise visit to her husband, who worked as an officer at the base.

The deaths were blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Two days later, the PKK issued a statement claiming that it never targets civilians, and the death of the mother and child was a ‘mistake’. Turkish rage, however, was not solely directed at the PKK, as Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu clearly expressed at the funeral of the two victims. He placed the larger blame on Europe and the United States (US) for being “supporters of terrorism”, as he put it.

Published on 16 August 2018. Continue reading on Fanack website.

Kurdish translator Kawa Nemir vows to keep Kurdish publishing going from Amsterdam

(This is a story from summer 2018 that was already on my website but not archived, and newsletter subscribers will get an alert that it’s ‘published’ now.)

The Amsterdam based Foundation for Literature gave Kurdish poet and translator Kawa Nemir a chance to catch his breath after arriving in the Netherlands from Turkey, where he was under increasing political pressure; Nemir became a writer in residence in the foundation’s program ‘Refuge City’. But Nemir is not the kind of man to catch his breath: he has been working hard ever since he landed in Amsterdam four months ago. ‘I am like a guerrilla’, he says in a cafe in a side street of one of Amsterdam’s famous historic canals. ‘I take my task very seriously and I never quit.’ The task ahead: publish hundreds of books in Kurdish, both Kurdish and international classics. Now that publishing in Kurdish in Turkey had become close to impossible, Nemir is aiming to make Amsterdam a hub for literature in Kurdish.

Continue reading on Ahval.

Laffe EU staat niet principieel achter Turkse persvrijheid

(This is a story from late 2016, that was already on my website but not archived, and newsletter subscribers will get an alert that it’s ‘published’ now.)

Koerdische media krijgen klappen, maar Europa houdt onder Turkse druk haar mond.

Lees het hele stuk op de site van de Volkskrant. The English version is available here.

EU’s cowardice shows lack of support for press freedom in Turkey

(This is a story from late 2016, that was already on my website but not archived, and newsletter subscribers will get an alert that it’s ‘published’ now.)

The European Commission spoke out for press freedom in Turkey. Which seems praiseworthy – until you take a closer look.

Read the full story here on Byline! The Dutch version was published at the site of Dutch daily De Volkskrant.