The Turkish state broadcaster TRT has removed all recordings of Kurdish opera singer Pervin Chakar from its archives after Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel highlighted her prominence by pointing to her frequent appearances on TRT Kurdi.
Özel has himself recently been at the centre of an intense defamation campaign for publicly paying homage to the soprano, Pervin Chakar, after a performance she gave in Istanbul. His act drew strong condemnation from nationalist circles, exacerbated by pro-government media such as A Haber and Takvim, which labelled Chakar an “enemy of Turkey”, and from social media posts targeting her Kurdish identity after she was quoted as saying, “If there is no state for Kurds, there can be neither a Kurdish soprano nor a Kurdish composer,” and accusing the Turks of plundering Kurdish works.
Interestingly, those same outlets of the pro-government media now conducting a smear campaign against Chakar had previously praised her for her achievements, mostly during or before the short-lived peace process between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) between 2013 and 2015.
The TV channel TELE1 reminded its viewers that Chakar also received an award for best opera artist from the Istanbul municipality of Beyoğlu, which is controlled by the party of government, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), in 2013.
During the heated debate, some television personalities close to the Turkish government, including the TV presenter Kübra Par, joined in questioning Chakar’s international status as a soprano and attempting to undermine her achievements.
The world-renowned pianist Fazıl Say has also entered the fray in defence of Chakar. Sharing a photo of Chakar and Özel, Say praised Özel’s gesture, expressed his support for the renowned soprano and condemned any “racist comments” made about the photo.
Say not only congratulated Özel for kissing Chakar’s hand, but also defended Chakar against any discriminatory remarks. “Pervin is a very good voice, an excellent soprano, my sister, and we will work together,” Say said in his post.
“For 15 years I have followed her successes in many places in Europe. Let no one deny her the recognition she deserves.”