Turkey: Young Kurdish singer imprisoned

3 May 2015

Al Jazeera has published a video by a Turkish-Kurdish filmmaker about the Kurdish singer Nûdem Durak. The singer’s future is uncertain, because the Turkish government allegedly has convicted her to 10.5 years imprisonment for “promoting Kurdish propaganda”, according to Al Jazeera.

Published on Youtube on 30 April 2015

Maker of the documentary film, Eylem Kaftan, wrote:

“During one of my trips to south-eastern Turkey, I noticed Nûdem Durak among a group of young people in Cizre. She was quiet and soft-spoken, and her story shocked me. She had been accused of writing and distributing propaganda by the Turkish government when all she was doing was simply singing in Kurdish and teaching Kurdish songs to the children in her community. We were in the midst of a peace process in Turkey and so I thought these kinds of stories were a thing of the past. There were many Kurdish singers recording albums and giving concerts. I didn’t understand why Durak was being punished. To me, she was just a young, talented girl who wanted to express herself in a peaceful, free world.”
Eylem Kaftan is a Turkish-Kurdish filmmaker. This quote is from her story for Al Jazeera, Connecting with my Kurdish roots

“Details are still blurry, but apparently [she was convicted] for the ‘crime’ of singing Kurdish songs and/or teaching them to children,” wrote an American, Dan Song, who has travelled through Kurdistan in Eastern Turkey and Northern Iraq in late 2014. In the border town of Cizre, he met this talented young Kurdish musician named Nûdem Durak during a cozy evening of singing and dancing traditional Kurdish songs along with a few friends in a living room. In spite of a total language barrier, they somehow managed to become friends and stay in regular contact – using Google translate between English-Turkish, since it doesn’t have the option for Kurdish.

Dan Song wrote:
“Nûdem Durak was wanted by Turkish police when we met, but I was never quite sure exactly why, both because of the language barrier and also because it didn’t make sense to me that singing could be a crime. I’m in shock, and awaiting more info from contacts in the region. I want to try to help but not yet sure how.
For now, please watch this just-published short documentary and share it if you feel compelled. And if any of you have any advice, experience or contacts within the fields of activism, public media campaigns, human rights law, or simply any connection with the Turkish or Kurdish community, please contact me. Thank you for any help and support.
Daniel Song”

The local newspaper Cizre Postasi reported that Nûdem Durak was arrested together with three other women who were brought to the Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Ömerli. The other three women were released, while Nûdem Durak was sent to Mardin E Type Closed Prison, according to Cizre Postasi.

Numerous comments in social media discuss Nûdem Durak’s alleged connection to the HDP, the political party of the PKK. PKK has status as a terrorist organisation.


The security forces criminalise the most ordinary cultural activities. Even singing an ordinary Kurdish song can be a crime.
Rojhat Dilsiz, Nûdem’s lawyer. Quote from Eylem Kaftan’s documentary film


“How can there be a meaningful peace proces while Nudem’s beautiful voice is silenced? Her case should be taken up by freedom-loving people everywhere.”
Kurdistan Tribune

“My only dream is making arts. (…) I am in trouble because I followed my dreams.”
Nûdem Durak, singer. Quote from Eylem Kaftan’s documentary film

» Al Jazeera America, AJ Plus:
Meet the Kurdish woman imprisoned for singing in Turkey
“Turkey has arrested Nudem Durak for promoting Kurdish culture”

» Al Jazeera America, AJ Plus:
Connecting with my Kurdish roots
“A Turkish-Kurdish filmmaker talks about her desire to highlight Kurdish voices in her work”
By Eylem Kaftan, filmmaker behind Nûdem Durak’s story

» Al Jazeera America, AJ Plus:
The story of a persecuted culture, set to music
“A popular Kurdish singer struggles for freedom of expression in Turkey”
By Rojda Şenses – a popular singer of Kurdish origin. She was famously arrested by Turkish authorities in 2010 for playing a Kurdish folk song in public.

» Kurdistan Tribune – 3 May 2015:
Free Kurd Singer Nudem Durak: Stop This Cruel Mockery of the Peace Process
“The case of Nudem Durak, the young Kurdish singer recently jailed by the Turkish authorities, places another huge question mark over the faltering peace process between the Turkish state and the country’s 15-million-plus Kurds.”

» Cizre Postasi – 22 April 2015:
Cizre MKM Sanatçisi Nudem Durak Tutuklandi (in Turkish language)

» Al Jazeera America – Facebook post:

» Al Jazeera’s AJ+ on – 30 April 2015:

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