Kurdish performers will continue to pursue their art despite the obstacles and intolerance they face, Diyarbakır (Amed) City Theatre actress Berfin Emektar told Mezopotamya Agency on Wednesday.
“We will never give up performing art in Kurdish,” Emektar said, after her company’s play Don Kixot, a Kurdish language adaptation of Cervantes’s famous Don Quixote, was cancelled in Turkey’s northwestern Kocaeli province.
The organisation company received a phone call informing them that the theatre venue had been rented out in error, and that the performance would be cancelled. Actors were told the deplatforming was “at the discretion of the local authority”.
“We have been making Kurdish language theatre for 25 years. The bans are not new, they were here 25 years ago, 10 years ago, and last month. There is no guarantee that they won’t be here in the future,” Emektar said. “Kurdish artists will find a way. If there is no way, we will forge a path, as always. We continue to do our job despite all pressure.”
The obstacles and bans against Kurdish art had “ridiculous” reasoning, Emektar said. “They tell us that they are not banning the Kurdish language, that they ban events where there are concerns. But, for some reason, all the banned events are in Kurdish.”
Theatre companies do not need additional permits from governorates to perform in municipality-owned spaces, Emektar said, but the actors are constantly subjected to arbitrary bans over non-existent procedures.” Just recently the Mardin governorate banned our play Tartuffe in Kurdish. When the public made a fuss, they said the play had been cancelled due to the pandemic,” she said.
There is no tolerance for the use of Kurdish outside of TRT Kurdi, the Kurdish language service the government launched under Turkey’s state broadcaster in 2008, she added. “This duplicity is unacceptable. They are saying that Kurds are only allowed to say what they wish us to say.”
Recent days saw several high-profile Kurdish-language events cancelled, including a concert by internationally renowned Aynur Doğan scheduled for last week, drawing protests.
Muş (Mûş) governorate had announced on Monday another ban on a concert by Metin and Kemal Kahraman, sibling musicians who perform songs in Kurdish and Turkish.
Writers, musicians, MPs, political party leaders, and journalists protested the bans in tweets and statements.