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Pro-gov’t media targets main opposition leader for attending Kurdish opera singer’s performance

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Pro-government media has targeted main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel for attending the recent performance of a Kurdish opera singer along with Pervin Buldan, an MP from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) and other politicians from both parties.

In addition to Özel and Buldan, CHP Diyarbakır lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu, İstanbul branch chairperson Özgür Çelik and HEDEP Central Executive Board (MYK) members İlknur Birol and Murat Mıhçı attended the Sunday performance of Pervin Chakar, one of the few Kurdish opera singers to be awarded various international prizes, at the Süreyya Opera House in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district.

Pro-government media outlets, such as the A Haber news website and Takvim daily, labeled Chakar “an enemy of Turkey.” They targeted Özel for attending her performance and kissing the singer’s hand on stage to express his admiration after the performance.

Sharing photos of the event on X, formerly known as Twitter, the CHP leader emphasized the messages of peace and brotherhood conveyed by Chakar.

Chakar also made a statement on X regarding the pro-government media outlets’ coverage of Sunday’s performance.

Saying that she performed songs not only in German, Czech, Italian and French but also in her native Kurdish language at the event, Chakar added: “I believe singing in my native language is my greatest right. And I don’t intend to seek permission from anyone for that.”

The singer mentioned that many political leaders, mayors, members of parliament, writers and intellectuals attended her concert to hear her sing and that there were political leaders, such as Özel and Buldan, who wanted to congratulate her on stage and express their admiration.

” The art I create is beyond politics. Our values, culture, language and art are the red lines for us Kurds and for me. … I prefer to respond to racist and offensive words with my art. Because everything is temporary, but art is always enduring,” Chakar said.

While the Turkish state granted minority rights to Armenians, Greeks and Jews under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Kurds were denied these rights despite being the country’s largest minority group, and their language remained taboo until very recently. Restrictions on producing content in Kurdish and teaching the language were relatively eased in the early 2000s amid an acceleration of Turkey’s accession talks with the EU.

In the last decade, however, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been governing the country in tandem with the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which has intensified the atmosphere of hostility against the Kurdish minority.

Since an attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling AKP in July 2016, the government has shut down a number of Kurdish language institutes, dailies, websites and TV channels as part of a crackdown targeting the Kurdish political movement.

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