On 29 November 2007 the Danish Refugee Council awarded Mizgin, a Kurdish refugee musician based in Denmark, with an ‘Artist Award’ and 5,000 US dollars. Mizgin said she would be happy to receive the award “on behalf of the Kurdish musicians who have lost their lives in the struggle for democracy.”
In her speech after having received the award Mizgin thanked the Danish Refugee Council for the acknowledgement, and said: “I am very happy, but at the same time, I am also very sad. I am sad because in the country which I come from there are many musicians and artists who are persecuted and killed because of their work. There are musicians, writers, journalists and artists who have paid a high price for expressing their opinions. I hope that there will be a day when there is peace in my country, and where we also get an opportunity to build a democratic Kurdistan, and a society where musicians and artists are rewarded. Allow me to recieve this award on behalf of the Kurdish musicians who have lost their lives in the struggle for democracy. A struggle in which their only weapon was their music.”
Mizgin came to Denmark in 1999 as political refugee because she had been harrassed, arrested and imprisoned numerous times since the beginning of her musical career as a singer and saz-player in 1992. In this period, according to Turkish law, singing in the Kurdish language was illegal. She was 21 years old when her debut album was seized by the Turkish authorities. “We were accused of making political propaganda, but my songs were about love, not politics,” explained Mizgin in an interview with the Danish newspaper På Gaden.
During this period in the 1990’s when she lived in Istanbul Mizgin is said to have played a vital part in the development of the Kurdish musical culture.
Mizgin at the award ceremony
Photos (above and below) by Bente Bækgaard, DRC
On 29 November 2007 Mizgin was given flowers and an envelope with 25,000 Danish kroner (equivalent of approximately 5,000 US dollars) at a reception in the World Culture Centre in Copenhagen. The jury of four musicians and music experts who had pointed on Mizgin to receive the council’s award this year said that “she stood out because of the openness in her music” – which referred to the fact that Mizgin has moved from playing pure Kurdish folk music to something which is a fusion of several cultures. The orchestra which she has gathered around her in Denmark (and which also carries the name ‘Mizgin’) consists of musicians from other countries and cultures, namely Bulgaria, Iran and Denmark.
“This is the first time I have received an award, and it makes me happy and proud. The award gives me a new incentive to work for my music, and it gives me new hope for the future,” said Mizgin.