Nazlı Demir, the government-appointed trustee mayor of Cizre (Cizîr), has reallocated a historic cultural centre in the city, located in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish province of Şırnak (Şirnex). Originally dedicated to preserving Kurdish oral storytelling, the centre will now be used by the Turkish National Education Directorate.
The Dengbêj House, located in the town of Cizre, was initially converted from the historic Mehmet Ağa Mansion by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) in 2015. The centre was intended to serve as a hub for the preservation and promotion of the Kurdish oral storytelling tradition known as “dengbêj”. However, the property was nationalised in 2016 following the appointment of a government trustee to oversee the municipality. Now, trustee Nazlı Demir has reallocated the centre to the Turkish National Education Directorate for educational purposes, specifically for use by the Fine Arts High School. This decision was reportedly made conditional upon the transfer of land where the Fatih Primary School is located to the local government.
The trustee-controlled municipal council’s justification for this reallocation was to “provide an appropriate environment for artistic values”, a statement that has raised concerns among those who understand the cultural importance of the Dengbêj House.
The initial opening of the Dengbêj House in 2015 was a significant cultural milestone, attended by thousands. On the occasion, prominent local politicians and community leaders led a march to the venue, chanting slogans such as “Bê ziman jiyan nabe” (“Life is impossible without language”).