Turkey: Ferhat Tunc: “I will continue my struggle”

25 June 2007

Despite death threats and continuous court cases, Kurdish-Turkish singer and writer Ferhat Tunç continues to critise the Turkish court system and the government. In this statement of his, Tunç says: “I am not an artist who sings poppy songs… and I will cry out the reality of this country even louder.”

By Ferhat Tunç



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Dear press members, precious friends,
I’ve left behind 25 years of a career as an artist. I believe, with goods and bads, I’ve matured and reached a certain level during these 25 years, without losing the direction I aimed at, when I set out. I’ve recorded 23 albums. My last record is named “Ateşte Sınandık” (We’ve Been Tested with Fire). This is, in fact, a name that summarizes my understanding of life.

Turkey is our common home, my country, our country. But unfortunately, as the elder say, we’ve never seen the light of day in our beautiful country. We’ve come to these days through hard times, times of fire. We’ve seen days like March 12th, September 12th. However, we go on experiencing difficulties, troubles even at this point. The powerful still block Turkey’s march to a better future. Here I should explain, the problems and troubles that I am going through are a part of ‘fate’ that is deemed appropriate for people of Turkey. But, of course, we won’t consent to this ‘fate’ that they think is appropriate.

It seems, the AKP government that has now decided for new elections will ask for our votes by disguising themselves as democrats, as ‘victims of military memo’. But the ruler ship of AKP hasn’t solved any of Turkey’s fundamental problems, especially the Kurdish problem, and in direct contradiction, moved Turkey backwards in terms of democratization. They resurrected “The Act of Battle with Terror”, doomed Turkey to the shame of Article 301. They limited our rights and liberties for freedom of speech and thought. They weren’t decent enough to back their words after the incident in Şemdinli. They filled the administrative staff with their own people and ignored the problems of Turkey that needed immediate attention, and went in for a race of nationalism with Deniz Baykal of CHP. In the chauvinistic-nationalistic atmosphere they created, the people with opposing ideas were put under enormous pressure, juridically and psychologically.

I am not an artist that sings poppy songs. From the beginning of my career, I’ve tried to keep my steps in accordance with my identity and values. I’ve tried to be the voice of the repressed, of the despised, of the ones that were objected to injustice and unfairness, of the ‘others’. This is my choice. This is the cause and basis of the threats and the law suits against me. Some people expect me to sing my songs and sit back comfortably. Many people advised me to do so; some with good and some with bad intentions. Many officials suggested this tome too, from time to time. They say, “You sing your songs, you’re famous, why isn’t that enough? Behave yourself; why do you get yourself into trouble instead of singing love songs, chit-chat songs?”

Precious friends,
I am from Dersim, I am Alevi, I am Kurdish. These are the fundamental values that form my identity, my personality. Like everybody from Dersim, I grew up listening to stories of massacres that were told by the elderly. Like everybody from Dersim, I grew up under a regime that ignored my language, culture and existence. My Alevi identity was another cause of repression. We all know about and remember the bloody incidents of the recent past, like massacre of Maraş. Considering that I was formed under such social climate, who can expect me to be a different Ferhat Tunç?

This geography has a Kurdish problem. This problem is neither created by me, nor can be thought of as, like the prime minister once put it, “there is, because we think of it”. It has historical, sociological roots. If there is a Kurdish problem in our country, no one can be held accountable for this, other than the dominant ideology that ignores and negates Kurdish people, their language, culture, and existence.

We’re talking about a serious problem that caused bloody clashes, poverty, misery, deaths of thousands, and evacuation of millions of our people. No one should expect me to ignore this problem, and to sit down and watch these negative mentality and politics. All the people that form the reality of Turkey, with the Laz, the Circassian, like me, listen to my music, come to my concerts. This is why the obscure forces that keep me under threats of prison and death see me as ‘menace’. But frankly, it is the people of Dersim, the Kurdish that like me most. I know very well that this is not because of my songs. The fact that I stand up for democracy, freedom, and brotherhood of our people has a big role in this. This is very natural. I have to deserve this interest, this love. This is an honour and a cause for living on my side.

Like my people, I, too, defend and miss peace and brotherhood. I am being tried because I say let’s not have anymore funerals of soldiers and guerrillas. Who is guilty? Me, or the ones who cause deaths of our children and sufferings of our people with their insistence on negation? Me, or the ones who avoid solving the obvious problem through peace and democracy –the ones that let every possibility to come to naught? The answer to these questions is pretty clear to me.

Precious friends,

One of my ongoing trials is because of my article in the newspaper Özgür Gündem, in which I criticised how jurisdiction was exercised on former parliament members of DEP. The situation of jurisdiction in Turkey is obvious. Even the people who exercise jurisdiction complain about its being not independent. What did Turkey gain when those members were forced out of the parliament? What did those members do other than representing the people that voted for them? Just because those who talk about ‘national will’ only when it serves them kept silent in the presence of that juridical disgrace, should I keep silent too? Of course not.

Another ongoing trial is because I was in the delegation that brought private Coşkun Kırandi back to his family, when he was captured by PKK guerillas in 2005. This peaceful and humane action is being punished, instead of being appreciated. In the indictment by the prosecutor, I was unfortunately referred as “so-called advocate of human rights”, “attempting such an action without official permission”.

And finally, 10th High Criminal Court in İzmir filed a suit against me for “making propaganda in favour of an organization”, which imposes 15 years in prison. The suit was filed based on attentively chosen parts of my speech at a concert in Alanya, in July 22nd, 2006. I will make my prime statement against this charge in the court, with my lawyers. But this I can say here: in this trial it is claimed that my crime was to say “My heart is burning for the soldiers and the guerillas that die” and “it is enough”. If this is a crime, I accept it here before you. And again before you, I say: It is enough! My heart is burning for dying soldiers and guerillas! Let’s solve the Kurdish problem through peace and democracy, and let the bleeding stop. Don’t let the future of Turkey drawn into darkness! Stop imposing an irrational unscrupulousness which ignores and wipes out a nation.

Precious press members,
It is especially suspicious that the timing of the last case against me collides with the elections. They want to repress me with the threat of ‘punishment’. My lawyers talk about the possibility of an arrest.

The pressure over DTP organizations and administrators have increased in the previous months and I believe my situation is a part of it. Whoever talks about the Kurdish problem, peace, and brotherhood ends up in courts, in prisons. They want to keep our people silent, speechless and voiceless. I state clearly: They won’t be successful. This mentality brings only pain, but these people will keep raising many Ferhat Tunçs. This is the reality they don’t want to see.

If what they aim is to daunt, subjugate, silence me, I announce before you: I won’t be daunted, won’t yield, won’t stop talking. On the contrary, I will cry out the reality of this country even louder!

Precious friends,
This has been on the papers from time to time. I should say, after Hrant Dink’s death, there is significant increase in the numbers of death threats I receive. It seems some people burn with the desire to make attempts on my life.

I should state clearly that I don’t think we’ve come to this situation coincidentally or accidentally. You will remember how Hrant Dink became the target of dark powers after the provocations organized by nationalist-chauvinist circles including people like Kemal Kerinçsiz. The state prosecutors have made me a target of these dark forces by filing suits against me based on the words they carefully pick up from my writings and speeches.

I believe that a true solidarity and unity of our country can only be achieved by letting all cultures, languages, beliefs, identities and values co-exist in a free, equal and democratic way. They accuse me of being a separatist, but they are the ones that separate, refuse, negate. No nation, no language, culture or belief is superior to or below another. Variety is the richness of our country; is the guarantee of our solidarity and unity. The understanding and the politics that see only one way have no consequences other than harm our country’s future, our will to live together.

People with “love it or leave it” mentality should know this: They don’t own the rights to decide how to love this country.

In the former months, one of those death threats that are increasing in numbers was sent to the police authorities by a dark murder ring called TİT. The message TİT sent to authorities said “We killed Hrant Dink. And now Osman Baydemir, Metin Tekçe and Ferhat Tunç are next. Protect them if you think you can”. Two months after this threat, the authorities told me to ‘take care of myself’.

Frankly, these trials and threats have brought my life to an unbearable and distressing state.

But I won’t be daunted.

I will be behind my thoughts and beliefs, and I will go on to talk about them on every ground.

When I will give my last breath, I will be sticking to the values that make me Ferhat Tunç.

I will go on saying that the Kurdish problem exists, and its solution can only be possible through an honourable peace.

I will be beside Alevis in their struggle for democratic rights.

I will continue to support struggle for democratic rights by those who are repressed, aggrieved, and subjected to inequity and injustice.

Even if it costs me my life, even if they send me to prison, I will pay the price. I will go on marching beside my people.



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