A Kurdish MP from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has proposed a motion in the Turkish parliament for a parliamentary inquiry into the ‘Turkification of Kurdish songs’.
In his motion, Murat Sarısaç, the MP for the Kurdish-majority province of Van (Wan), suggested a survey to identify which Kurdish songs had been adapted into Turkish and presented as Turkish songs in popular culture without disclosing their origins.
“Research shows that the Turkification of songs with no indication of their origin and no regard for copyright privileges has had a negative impact on Kurdish cultural heritage.”
Sarısaç noted that the Turkification process had been carried out by various popular Kurdish musicians since the 1980 military coup when the Kurdish language and even the word ‘Kurdish’ itself were banned.
“There were no legal remedies against attempts at degenerating Kurdish songs during the time when Kurdish was banned,” he said. “Consequently, musicians including İzzet Altınmeşe, Burhan Çaçan, Celal Güzelses, Mukim Tahir, Kel Hamza, Küçük Emrah, Ceylan, İbrahim Tatlıses and Cemil Cankurt Turkified numerous Kurdish songs.”
The Kurds were totally unrepresented in the mass media for decades because of the policies of denial of the Kurdish social identity. As a result, although the musicians he listed are among the most popular performers in Turkey, apart from Kurds themselves the general public were unaware either that the musicians were actually Kurds or that the origin of the songs was Kurdish.
One of the most striking examples of the Turkified Kurdish songs is İbrahim Tatlıses’s ‘Bir Mumdur İki Mumdur’, one of the greatest hits of the 1980s, which Sarısaç said was adapted by Tatlıses from the original Kurdish ‘Yek Mûmik’, by prominent Kurdish musician Şivan Perwer.
Other examples Sarısaç gave include ‘Ankara’nın Taşına Bak’, originally ‘Ey Niştiman’ by Hasan Zirek, İzzet Altınmeşe’s ‘Oy Fadike’, orginally ‘Ax Fadikê’ and ‘Yusuf Yüzlüm’, originally ‘Bîngol Şewtî’.
‘Ey Niştiman’, written and composed by the Kurdish composer Hasan Zirek for the short-lived Kurdish Republic of Mahabad, was turned into the military song ‘Ankara’nın Taşına Bak’. An Armenian mourning theme is known to have inspired Zirek.
Even ‘Geliyê Zilan’, a song of mourning resulting from the 1930 Zilan Massacre, in which thousands of women and elderly people were killed by Turkish soldiers following a popular Kurdish uprising, was turned into a Turkish song, ‘Uçun Kuşlar Medine’ye’, as the Turkish authorities did their best to keep the Zilan Massacre itself concealed from the public.