Kurdistan Turkey shuts down Kurdish city theater

Turkey shuts down Kurdish city theater
Two Kurdish actors playing Anton Chekhov's A Marriage Proposal on the stage of the City Theater of Batman, Batman, Turkey, 24/02/2013 (Photo: Batman Municipality)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) - Turkish authorities on Friday closed down a city theater in the Kurdish city of Batman, three weeks after the Government appointed a trustee to the municipality there.

Speaking to Kurdistan 24 on the phone from Batman, the director of the City Theatre of Batman, Ahmet Bulent Tekik confirmed the closure and stated that the authorities claimed they were acting on an order by the trustee but did not present any legal reason for it.

"We launched the city theater four years ago. Each year we held a Kurdish theater festival. Each year we taught 30 students to become actors. All our plays and courses were in Kurdish," said Tekik.

This year Batman Theater included French playwright Moliere's Tartuffe, children's play the Shame of the Tin Soldier, and a play on the life of the 17th-century Kurdish poet Melaye Jaziri.

Now that the theater, funded by the Batman Municipality is closed, all the plays are canceled.

"We are passing through a dangerous process. Rights are violated. We hope that these darks days pass, and our plays resume," said Tekik.

Batman City Theater director revealed that on September 20, a team of his was set to stage a play at a cultural festival in the city of Saghez in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat).

"But, after the government appointed a trustee to our municipality, we had to cancel the program. We would very much like to show our plays in all four parts of Kurdistan," said Tekik.

"Turkish authorities clearly do not want Kurdish literature and theater to advance. On one hand, we see that Turkish state TV has a Kurdish section, on the other hand, we witness how the government is clamping down on independent art institutions like ours, or closing down children's channel," added Tekik.


Turkey's crackdown on Kurdish institutions, politicians and prominent individuals intensified after a state of emergency was declared in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup attempt by a group of rogue soldiers within the Turkish Army.

On September 11, the Turkish Ministry of Interior seized 28 municipalities, 24 of which were Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP)-held, including that of Batman.

The closure of a Kurdish city theater comes two days after Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) halted the broadcast of the country's only Kurdish children's channel, Zarok TV and 11 other stations on the national satellite network.

Last week, author, translator and the editor of the Kurdish literary magazine Zarema, Fahriye Adsay was arrested in an early morning raid on her house in the city of Diyarbakir.


Editing by Ava Homa