Turkish judges announced their decision in a court case against a governor’s ban on a Kurdish stage performance, ruling that the ban was justified and lawful, Mezopotamya News Agency reported on Friday.
The ban was issued by the governor of Turkey’s Kurdish-majority province of Urfa (Riha) in November 2020. While the performance of the stage play, ‘Bêrû Klakson Borizan Girt’, by Teatra Jiyana Nu was banned indefinitely in the province, an appeal by lawyers to lift the ban was rejected by the same governor’s office. The play is an adaptation of Italian playwright Dario Fo’s ‘Faceless’ (‘Bêrû’).
The court case against the governor’s ban was subsequently opened by an appeal of the lawyers on 12 February 2021.
While the judges in their recent decision claimed that Teatra Jiyana Nu was associated with Mezopotamya Culture Centre (MKM), a prominent Kurdish culture and arts centre founded in 1991 and closed by the Turkish interior ministry during the period of state of emergency after the 2016 military coup attempt in Turkey, they also argued in turn that MKM was associated with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a ‘terrorist group’ in Turkey.
The judges dismissed the lawyers’ appeal against the ban, stating that the governor’s field of authority ought to be broad ‘for the sake of the state’s survival’, and ‘in order for the fight against terrorism to be effective’. They asserted that the motive for the governor’s ban was to ‘disable support for organisations associated with terror.’
Hidayet Emek, one of the lawyers who made the appeal against the ban, criticised the court’s decision, saying that the ban on the Kurdish stage performance actually signified a ban on Kurdish language and culture. Emek said:
“This decision is part of the assimilation policies that have been targeting the Kurdish identity, culture and language for years. Such oppressive policies against the Kurdish people constitute violations against the European Convention of Human Rights, and against fundamental principles of universal law.’
Stating that a stage play could have nothing to do with the survival of the state only because it’s performed in Kurdish, Emek went on, saying:
“It’s apparent that the only problem they’re concerned with here is not that it’s a play by Dario Fo, but that it’a a play that is performed in Kurdish.”