Turkey should end assimilation and racist policies: Sivan Perwer

"As long as they fight Kurdish people, they will have problems and cannot develop the economy."
Famed Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
Famed Kurdish singer Şivan Perwer (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Famed Kurdish singer Sivan Perwer told Kurdistan 24 in an interview that Turkey should stop their assimilation and racist policies towards the Kurds, and that he cannot return if Turkey does not change its assimilationist policies.

Perwer was born in 1955 in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast. For almost 50 years has sung in many places, and fled from Turkey in 1976 since “Kurds and Kurdistan were completely forbidden.”

“So, I went to Europe and there was a big possibility to sing and perform freely.”

“My purpose, my belief is freedom, Kurdistan, freedom for all human beings,” he said. “I love people, I don't want anybody to be an enemy to anybody,” he said. “I never tell Kurdish people in my songs to be enemies to Turks, Arabs or Persians.”

Perwer added that other nations should also respect the Kurdish rights. “We are from this area, this country, this land and we are still alive. We are millions.”

Racist policies

In Nov. 2013, Perwer performed in Diyarbakir (Amed) during the peace process. However, in an earlier interview with Kurdistan 24, Perwer said he cannot return to Turkey, while the war continues between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after the collapse of the peace process in 2015.

Read More: Renowned Kurdish singer says Kurds must avoid civil war

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier asked Perwer why he left Turkey. ‘Well, you are fighting. There is war and destruction, what can I do by coming there?” Perwer stressed in the earlier interview.

“Turkey continues with the same policy lines, and racism is still active,” he said. “In Turkey, there are maybe more than 30 million Kurds,” he added. “The people wish for me to go one day, since 50 years they are listening to my music, but I cannot go to my people.”

Dozens of concerts planned by Kurdish artists were canceled this year by the local authorities, while other Kurdish artists were still allowed to perform.

“Assimilation is a big mistake,” Perwer said. “You have no right from God or religion, law, to assimilate people or forbid their language and culture and disregard their rights.”

“We wait for Turkey to change that style and respect us and then Turks and Kurds will love each other.”

“There is a big (Kurdish) population and they never can finish Kurdish people! Never! As long as they fight Kurdish people, they will have problems and cannot develop the economy. We have our rights, we need our freedom and they continue to fight us, bomb our mountains, villages and borders. It is crazy, truly.”

He underlined that the US and Europe should help the Kurds. “The Kurdish people are like every other people: they need freedom, they are a peaceful people, but they hurt us.”

Arabesque singers

Perwer said he could have also decided to sing in Turkish, like other Kurdish singers in Turkey do, and make profit. “But that was not honorable,” he said, adding that his parents taught him about the significance of Kurdistan. “My beautiful country, divided, why does it have to be like this? This is why most of my songs are follow this line; and I will continue, Kurdistan must be free.”

He also added that Kurds have a very rich musical tradition. “In every region of Kurdistan, there is a different style of dance.”

“Most of the Kurds when they sing in Arabic, Turkish or Persian, they become very well known.” However, he said, “there is no need to say any names (of Kurdish singers who do not sing in their native language).”

Perwer said he is “not against anybody when they sing in another language, it's very normal. They can sing in Dutch, they can sing in English, Turkish, and Persian. But they must not forget about their own (culture).”

Iran protests

On the protests in Iran that were sparked by the death in custody of the 22-year-old Kurdish Jina Amini at the hands of the Iranian morality police, Perwer expressed worries that the Kurds will be victimized and later ignored, amidst a heavy death toll in Kurdish areas of Iran.

“It starts mostly from the Kurdish (areas) and Kurds every time have been victimized afterwards,” he said.

Read More: Activists express fear of major Iran crackdown in Kurdish-populated town

“The trouble comes to Kurdistan, and then later they kill, hang Kurds, and Kurds are forced to escape. You know this system has killed a lot of members of the Kurdish leadership too, like Ghassemlou, Sharafkandi, and many others from the Komala and from the Democratic party.”

Women freedom

“Freedom is for everybody, when women are free, the society is free, but when you keep women under occupation, the society is not free,” Perwer stressed. “I hope they (the rest of Iran) will not leave the Kurds alone,” he added.

Perwer pointed out to the lack of organization in the protests taking place in Iran and Iran’s Kurdish cities. “They must be organized, otherwise (the outcome) will be very bad. The regime will not stop killing.”

Moreover, Perwer believes a solution for a future Iran would be to establish a federal system. “For instance, there could be a Kurdistan area, Azerbaijan area, Baluchistan area, within the borders of a federal Iran. The people would respect and love each other equally,” he concluded.