The case of Nudem Durak, the young Kurdish singer recently jailed by the Turkish authorities, places another huge question mark over the faltering peace process between the Turkish state and the country’s 15-million-plus Kurds. Nudem, a talented young woman who is not directly involved in politics, has been thrown into jail, according to her lawyer, for “promoting Kurdish propaganda by teaching Kurdish folk songs to youth music groups”. Her plight was highlighted last week in a short film produced/directed by Eylem Kaftan and published by Al Jazeera:
Daniel Song, who is based in California, met Nudem earlier this year while travelling in the region. He was shocked by the news of her arrest and is trying to instigate an international campaign for her release.
“I don’t know Nudem well”, Daniel told KT. “I met her at the apartment of a host’s flat in Cizre some months ago, as I was traveling with two friends through Kurdistan in Turkey and Iraq. We spent a nice evening with other new Kurdish friends singing and dancing to traditional Kurdish music, and conversed with Nudem via Google translate, and she also showed us some Youtube documentary films. She told us that the police wanted to arrest her for doing something like singing in Kurdish …
“Afterwards, I have kept in basic contact with Nudem over Facebook. My impression through our interactions is that she is a gentle, good-hearted woman who was following her passion, music and Kurdish culture. She seems to me an innocent victim of a greater conflict and politics.
“The following is the information we know about Nudem so far:
- Nudem was arrested on April 22nd and taken to Mardin Type E prison.
- She hasn’t been eating due to being too upset.
- She has a ‘supreme court’ level hearing due in one year’s time.
- According to her lawyer, she has been charged with “promoting Kurdish propaganda by teaching Kurdish folk songs to youth music groups”.
- According to Nûdem’s lawyer, there is no change in her legal status. He reported that she is allowed 10 minutes of telephone access a week. The prison doesn’t allow CDs within its facility, but Nûdem’s brother will be bringing her a guitar, so she can continue to play”.
Nudem Durak faces ten and a half years imprisonment – for singing and promoting Kurdish culture. Her plight mirrors that of countless Kurds and others jailed in Turkey on spurious anti-terrorism and other pretexts, as the state veers towards authoritarianism. How can there be a meaningful peace proces while Nudem’s beautiful voice is silenced? Her case should be taken up by freedom-loving people everywhere.