writes for the daily Yeni Yaşam on the anniversary of the day Musa Anter was murdered.0 September 1992: A cursed day!.. They thought, if we kill Musa Anter, the young journalists around him will take fear and run away, and they will not again be able to bring out the Özgür Gündem [‘Free Agenda’] newspaper and its successor publications. But in defiance of them we are still providing you with the news today, by means of dozens of news agencies, television channels, newspapers and radio stations!” Hüseyin Aykol
Musa Anter, whom the Kurds prefer to call Apê (Uncle) Musa was born in 1920 in the village of Zivingê (Eski Mağara) in Stilîlê (Akarsu), Nusaybin. He was sent to primary school first in Gercüş, later in Nusaybin, but he completed his education in Mardin.
Anter was sent to Adana Boys’ School as the result of a few happy coincidences, his success in examinations he entered and his persistent cajolery of his mother to let him go. But the high school boy Musa was detained for provoking Turkish students there.
In response to the strong language of some others, he used strong language in relation to Zübeyde Hanım (the mother of Kemal Atatürk), and he soon found himself in custody at the police station. Someone intervened, he was released from custody, and although they wanted to prosecute him, the authorities were persuaded and he was able to return to his school. On completion of Adana Boys’ School he left with the appreciation of many of his teachers and the successful management of the school tuck shop under his belt!
Anter went to Istanbul for his higher education in 1941. He initially enrolled in the Faculty of Literature, however, later he met Faik Bucak, another Kurdish student, and on his suggestion, he moved to the Faculty of Law where Faik was studying. Anter was running student residences at the same time as his studies. In 1944 he married Ayşe Hale, from the Zapsu family. The Hale-Anter family had three children.
Dicle Student Residences
In the meantime 25 of the Kurds in Istanbul came together, set up and founded the Dicle (Tigris) Student Residents. Later on, without breaking ties completely with the Dicle Student Residences, Anter also set up and managed the Modern Fırat (Euphrates) Student Residences. The weekly newspaper Dicle Kaynağı (Source of the Tigris) was brought out as a product of the ‘organisation’ of the Dicle Student Residences.
In 1951 he published the Şark Mecmuası (East Magazine) together with Kemal Sülker, but they were only able to release two issues.
Anter closed the magazine, sold the press where it had been printed and returned to his home village. He started working in agriculture in Zivingê and Stilîlê. When the newly-constructed Turistik Palas Hotel in Diyarbakır required a manager in 1953, he furnished the hotel in a manner to please foreign tourists, and became the manager.
The administration of the hotel became a focus for politics in the city, and in 1954 Anter, with the help of a wealthy friend, started to publish a newspaper by the name of Şark Postası (Eastern Post). The Şark Postası began selling 1000 copies, at a time when the Hürriyet newspaper, one of the most popular newspapers in Turkey, was only selling 40-50 copies. The newspaper was only two pages, but Anter’s writing was much-loved. But when he left to become an officer cadet, the Şark Postası lost its former success.
The İleri Yurd newspaper
In 1958, Musa Anter returned to Diyarbakır. He took over and started publishing the İleri Yurd (Progressive Nation) newspaper together with Canip Yıldırım. Every issue of the newspaper made an impact, and lawyers and the people took great interest in the legal cases initiated against it. Each hearing became a scene of arguments between Anter and the judges. Additionally, the odd Kurdish words or phrases slipped into the articles in the newspaper that kept the authorities on their toes. For example, the famous Kurdish poem Qimil was published in this newspaper.
During the last term of the government of President Menderes, a plan to execute 1000 Kurds in groups of 50 was being implemented. Musa Anter was among 50 luminaries arrested on 17 December 1959 in connection with this. They were brought from Diyarbakır to Istanbul, and thrown into specially prepared cells.
One of the 50, Emin Batu, died during this imprisonment, and because of this, the case went down in history as the “Case of the 49”. The detainees remained in their cells from 27 December 1959 to 10 March 1960. The defendants were tried for the death sentence, but released at the end of the trial.
Anter was then forced to live in exile in Çanakkale for six months. He visited Istanbul and persuaded the owner of the Barış Dünyası (World of Peace) magazine to let him write an article for the magazine. But proceedings were started against him in relation to a few of his articles published there too. On 3 June 1963 Anter was again arrested. This time, he was put into Balmumcu Prison, but later he was acquitted and released.
Candidacy for MP for Mardin
At the request of the executive of the Turkish Workers Party (TİP) Anter stood as a candidate for MP for Mardin in 1965, but he had not been told until the preselection that he would be running against Canip Yıldırım, and on learning this he entered as an independent candidate instead. Although he gained more votes than most of the candidates selected by the TİP he was unable to become an MP.
The first issue of the Doğu (East) magazine, which was established on condition that he wrote articles for it, was published on 1 December 1969 to great acclaim. He had to make a statement to the court for every issue of this magazine that came out. He was arrested in 1970 on the word of an informant, and taken to Ankara where he was tried. He was in custody for a two weeks.
Anter supported the Revolutionary Hearths of Eastern Culture (DDKO), founded by Kurds who broke away from the TİP. He was among hundreds of people tried in the DDKO case following the military coup of 12 March 1971. On this occasion he was detained for 32 months. At the conclusion of the trial the defendants were each sentenced to between eight and fifteen years imprisonment, but they were released from prison during an amnesty in 1974. Anter withdrew to his home village after this stormy period.
He declined all offers from Kurdish organisations and left-wing parties and concentrated on dry farming in his village, and irrigated farming at the nearby town. He was detained on 20 December 1979 on the grounds that someone had come to visit him with a passport from Beirut. He was released from Mardin prison two weeks later. His home was raided during the military coup of 12 September 1980. He was not arrested on this occasion, but held under house arrest.
When a tourist from Sweden came to visit him in 1984, he was again detained for a period of time. A warrant was issued for his arrest in a case relating to a speech he gave on a panel organised by the Socialist Party in December 1989, a month after the event. He was remanded in custody when he attended a hearing in the case on 11 April 1990. He was held in prison until 1 May 1990, the date of the hearing in which he was acquitted.
Newspapers and Kurdish Institutions
In the meantime, on 22 April 1990 the Halk Gerçeği (The People’s Reality) began publication. Anter was submitting a weekly article to a magazine released by the team of Doğu Perinçek (a prominent Turkish writer and politician), who was taking an interest in the Kurdish question – to the extent of going to the Bekaa Valley to meet with the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan. The circulation of this magazine, which dealt with the Kurdish question and published Anter’s articles, was particularly high.
Later, when our weekly Yeni Ülke (New Country) newspaper came out in October 1990 and was gradually starting to reach maturity, someone said to Anter that he needed to write for our paper. He did not think twice, and started to write for us. However, this is not all he did.
Together with Anter, the administration office of the Yeni Ülke newspaper was host to almost all the Kurdish personalities of the time, and they were not limited to talking with these bright people, but ended up supporting the foundation of many of the first Kurdish institutions, such as the Centre for Mesopotamian Culture, the Institute of Kurdish Language and the Azadiya Welat (Free Homeland) newspaper.
Musa Anter was among the founders of the People’s Labour Party (HEP) when it was founded on 7 June 1990. He was the guest of honour at the party congress, where he received a roaring welcome.
On 20 September 1992 Musa Anter was murdered when he fell into a vile trap in Diyarbakır where he had gone as the guest of a culture festival.
And so we present the institutions and organisations of the Free Press, which we have established at personal risk to our lives, and kept alive and kicking throughout the years to this day with a thousand and one labours of love, to the memory of all our press martyrs, but first and foremost Musa Anter!