No 'normalization' for the Kurdish language

In the summer months after the Covid-19 epidemic, there was a normalization of culture and art activities. However, Kurdish activities were banned. So much so that the bans extended to Kurdish songs sung in prison.

Pressures on Kurdish culture have been going on for years. Pressures have not decreased, and the Covid-19 pandemic has been used as a justification to ban cultural and artistic activities in Kurdish. However, those in Turkish were not affected.

One latest example is that of the Mardin Governorate, which banned a play in Kurdish on the grounds of the epidemic but allowed a play in Turkish. In 2021, with the full opening at the end of the epidemic-related closures and the performance of culture and art activities in the summer period, the bans on Kurdish activities have also begun. When we look at the bans on cultural and artistic activities in Kurdish in 2021, we see that the activities targeted are not only those on stage, but also extend to prisoners who sing in Kurdish in their cells. We have compiled news from Mezopotamya Ajans, Gazete Karınca and Susma24 about the bans experienced during the year.

2 JUNE 2021

The hearing of the lawsuit filed against the decision to ban the Kurdish theater play Bêrû, which was banned by the Gaziosmanpaşa District Governor's Office in 2020, was held.

17 JUNE 2021

The lawsuit filed against the ban brought by the Gaziosmanpaşa District Governor's Office against the Kurdish theater play Bêrû in Istanbul was rejected. In its decision, the court claimed that "TJN is affiliated with the MKM [Mesopotamia Cultural Centre] and the MKM is affiliated with the PKK".

7 JULY 2021

Istanbul Beyoğlu Municipality police teams did not allow Kurdish musicians to sing on Istiklal Caddesi on 7 July. The musicians confiscated their musical instruments.

23 AUGUST 2021

In Elazig Prison, nine women, including Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-Chair and Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Hakkari ex-MP Leyla Güven, People's Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır Provincial Co-chair Hülya Alökmen Uyanık and Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP) Deputy Chairpersons, Fethiye Ok Çiçek a disciplinary investigation was opened.

31 AUGUST 2021

An investigation was launched against the detainees in Bakırköy Women's Closed Prison for singing Kurdish songs, and because they wanted to perform their defense in Kurdish, but this was prevented.


Batman Chief Public Prosecutor's Office launched an investigation against 13 people who danced halay accompanied by the song Serhildan Jiyane by Şivan Perwer at a rally held on 14 August 2021.

5 OCTOBER 2021

The Constitutional Court decided that the sentence of 2 years in prison handed down to Kadri Pervane who was listening to Kurdish music "too loudly" on the public bus he was driving in Diyarbakir was lawful. In the decision, it was stated that Pervane's "freedom of expression was not violated" because the song was judged to be "propaganda for a terrorist organization".

13 OCTOBER 2021

The literary interview that Avesta Publishing was planning to organize with Kurdish writer Mîrza Metin in Mardin was interrupted by the police entering the venue to end the event because of the coronavirus measures. Thereupon, Avesta Publishing announced that it had decided to stop its activities in Mardin.

16 OCTOBER 2021

Although the 30th anniversary celebration of MKM to be held at the Istanbul Bostancı Performance Center was allowed by the Governorship of Istanbul, the event was banned by the Kadıköy District Governorate hours before it took place.

13 NOVEMBER 2021

Veysi Ermiş, a Kurdish musician and artist from the Mesopotamia Cultural Center (MKM), was sentenced to 1 year, 6 months and 20 days in prison for "making propaganda for a terrorist organization" because of the words "Kurdistan" and "guerrilla" in his songs.

15 NOVEMBER 2021

Fatih District Governor's Office stopped the stand-up show of Özcan Ateş's Dawiya Dawî to be held at the Su Performing Arts Stage as part of the People's Democratic Party (HDP) Istanbul Youth Assembly's campaign "Let's break addiction and build a new life".

16 NOVEMBER 2021

The AKP-run Keçiören Municipality has cancelled the concert of Kurdish artist Mem Ararat that was scheduled to take place at Neşet Ertaş Cultural Center in the district on 4 December 2021.


The Mardin Governorship has banned the Kurdish play "Tartuffe", which was expected to be staged by Amed City Theater on 5 December 2021, at the Yay Grand Hotel hall in the city. The governor's office justified the decision with the renewal of the ban on protests and events in the city, which is extended almost every 15 days.