Turkey: Kurdish singer and musician Rojda arrested

24 February 2010


Kurdish artist Rojda was arrested for ‘propaganda for an illegal organisation’ because of singing a Kurdish song entitled ‘Heval Kamuran’. Rojda was released within a couple of hours after her statement had been taken, reported and

According to, Rojda was arrested at her home in the evening of 9 February 2010 and was taken to Beşiktaş Justice Hall. She was asked to make a formal deposition about a song entitled ‘Heval Kamuran’ which she sang at a festival in Diyarbakır organised by Diyarbakır Greater City Council.

A few days before her arrest, Selahattin Demirtas and Gültan Kisanak, co-chairs of pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) had emphasized the importance of protecting the mother tongue.

Six months in prison for playing Kurdish music

Politician Mahmut Alinak was handed down a six months prison sentence by the Kars Magistrate Criminal Court on the grounds of playing Kurdish music on his promotion van in the run-up to the elections. The Political Parties Law and the Election Law forbid political propaganda in any other language but Turkish in the run-up for elections. The government, however, has announced that in the scope of the Democratic Initiative, measures are in progress to allow addressing the Kurdish electorate in their mother tongue.

Ongoing cases in Diyarbakır
In 2009, Rojda had been invited to a meeting of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with musicians and artists about ‘democratic opening up’ writes in their weekly newsletter that Rojda said, after being released, that she had ongoing cases in Diyarbakır over the songs she sang.

“As long as some laws are not amended we will continue being perceived as potential criminals. I always go and make depositions. This time I did not receive the summons thus I was arrested. The police did not question me. I only made a deposition to the court.”

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced that he has organising meetings with around 160 musicians and other artists about the Kurdish opening up process. Three meetings have been scheduled, the first of which took place on 20 February 2010. Those invited include Sezen Aksu, Ajda Pekkan, İbrahim Tatlıses, Orhan Gencebay, Yılmaz Erdoğan, Emel Sayın, Orhan Pamuk, and Yaşar Kemal.



  Click to see original photo
Kurdish singer Rojda in concert in Diyarbakır Culture and Art Festival.

Photo by Mehmet Masum Süer

Click to read more news about music and human rights in Turkey




Kurd Net – 12 February 2010:

‘Turkey’s Kurdish artist arrested after being invited by Erdogan’

Antenna’s Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin

Kurd Net – 22 February 2010:
‘Killed for singing a Kurdish folk song in Turkey’
(Also published by




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