5. Şiwan Perwer and the politicization of Kurdish music in Turkey
This article, as I mentioned earlier, follows the story of Kurdish popular music and the politicization of Kurdish folk songs practiced in Turkey during the 1990s, when national musicians modified the content of some folk songs and composed new political songs. Popular figures in Kurdish music, like Şiwan Perwer, Nizamettin AriÁ, and Ciwan Haco started to sing altered versions of these songs and new songs at their concerts and put such songs in their albums. All three are living in exile in European cities. Şiwan Perwer was the most political and popular figure of all, as he became the voice of the silent nation. He himself is well aware of the situation, as the title of an interview he conducted with Halil Can (published in 1991) indicates: "My music alleviates my nation's pains and sharpens their rage." This statement leads us to think about the relationship between music and politics in the case of Kurds, Şiwan Perwer and Kurdish music. Şiwan Perwer is a poet, singer and performer on the bağlama. For many years, his songs - even those about love - were banned in Iraq, Iran and Turkey because they were sung in Kurdish. Cassettes of his music were passed from hand to hand, despite the risk of imprisonment. Even today only his traditional love songs are permitted in Turkey. He had to leave Turkey for Germany in 1976, and today he lives in Sweden as a defender of the Kurds and their music. "My music is my struggle" says Şiwan Perwer, to explain the political meaning of his music (Can 1991).
On Perver’s Ya Star album he performed an important political song that was also very popular among Kurds, Ya Star (‘Oh God’). The lyrics of this song summarize the real situation Kurds who have failed to unite and to establish their own state find themselves in. He suggests reasons for the failure, mentioning debates about the cultural unity of Kurds, and the nature of the opposition that they have faced, such as the claim that they have no united language, the various states’ policy of denying the presence of the Kurds, and so forth.
On the same album, Perwer has put a song named BrakujÓ (‘Fratricide’) to state the current situation among Kurds in the region. His point was to warn the Kurds that they should avoid fighting with their Kurdish brothers. It is important for Şiwan Perwer to include a song named as ‘Fratricide’ because, in my opinion, in Kurdish history, Kurds’ hatred of each other has played an important role in their failure to construct their own nation state. He tries to emphasize through this song that fratricide has a significant yet negative effect on Kurds.
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