Turkey: Singer’s Bülent Ersoy Anti-War Stance | Nilüfer Zengin, Gökçe Gündüç, Anna Çeliker
Turkey: Singer’s Bülent Ersoy Anti-War Stance Print
Nilüfer Zengin, Gökçe Gündüç, Anna Çeliker   
It took a judge from a national popstar competition, “Popstar Alaturka”, to say what many people may think secretly.
Turkey: Singer’s Bülent Ersoy Anti-War Stance | Nilüfer Zengin, Gökçe Gündüç, Anna Çeliker
Bülent Ersoy
Bülent Ersoy, a colourful transsexual singer, banned from performing on stage after the military coup in the 1980s, and now mostly in the magazine headlines for her outfits, young husbands and cosmetic surgery, expressed her opposition to the current cross-border operations in Northern Iraq on live TV on Sunday night (24 February).

Hundreds of lives lost
Since Friday, 22 February, the Turkish Armed Forces have stepped up attacks against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Northern Iraq by sending ground forces across the border to supplement the air attacks. So far, 19 soldiers and hundreds of PKK militants have died, and Turkey is watching the funerals of the “martyrs” on the evening news.

Young men mask their fears as they send off their friends to military service with shouted slogans of heroism and nationalism, one of them being, “Martyrs don’t die, the country can’t be separated.”

Only DTP opposed operations
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the opposition parties are united in their approval of the operations. An exception is the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) which has been marginalised by other parties to the point of trying to close it down.

To say that numerous cross-border operations in the past have not put an end to the PKK or to suggest that the country should mourn the deaths of Turkish soldiers and Kurdish militants as a sign of failed policies is equivalent to treachery in the eyes of many.

The mainstream media supports the war hawking nationalist discourse, and it has now turned its wrath on Bülent Ersoy.

"I am not a mother but I am a human being..."

What was it she said on live TV?

“If I had given birth to a child and someone sitting at a desk had said ‘You will do this, he will do that’, and I would have buried my child, would I accept that?”

This was greeted with applause from the studio audience. Ersoy continued:
“I cannot know exactly what it means to have a child. I am not a mother and will never be able to be one. But I am a human being; and as a human being, to bury them…I may not know how these mother’s hearts are breaking, but mothers understand.”

She continued, “This is not a war under normal conditions. It is written down and people are forced to play along. There is intrigue, and that is hard to cope with.”

"The happiness of being a soldier's mother..."
Turkey: Singer’s Bülent Ersoy Anti-War Stance | Nilüfer Zengin, Gökçe Gündüç, Anna Çeliker
Bülent Ersoy
Another jury member, singer Ebru Gündes, answered in a well-worn phrase, “Let Allah grant everyone the happiness of being a soldier's mother. May I have a glorious son and send him to the military,” to which Ersoy replied, “...and then you get his dead body back.”

Gündes answered, “Martyrs don’t die, the country can’t be separated,” to which Ersoy said:

“Always the same clichéd words, we always say the same. Children go, bloody tears, funerals…I don’t share your opinion. Why do we take part in the game? Alright, the country can’t be separated, but…Should all mothers just give birth and bury their children, is that it?”

Preliminary investigation started
Following the programme, Bagcilar Chief Public Prosecutor Ali Cakir in Istanbul has started a preliminary investigation, accusing Ersoy of “alienating the public from military service.”
Should there be a trial, Ersoy faces between six months and two years imprisonment, with an increment by half because the "crime" was committed in the media.

Cakir’s name is not unfamiliar to us. He also initiated investigations against writer and journalist Ipek Calislar for her book on Atatürk’s wife, “Latife Hanim”, in 2006, saying that it violated the Law on the Protection of Atatürk, as well as against writer and journalist Ertugrul Kürkcü in 2005 for his article entitled “Mustafa Kemal: Illusion and Reality”, arguing that it represented a crime against Atatürk.
Meanwhile, the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has also decided to consider the event at its next meeting on 28 February.

"No politician or intellectual as brave"

Ahmet Türk, parliamentary group leader of the DTP reacted to Ersoy’s words by saying, “A singer expresses this attitude, but no politician or intellectual has been as brave as Bülent Ersoy.”
The mainstream media has been quick to condemn Ersoy, and the Hürriyet newspaper quickly reported that “DTP supports Ersoy”. With its known negative attitude towards the DTP, Ersoy has now been tarred with the same marginalising brush…
However, anti-war activists have come out in support for Ersoy, organising an internet signature campaign to be handed to the press. (AG/NZ/GG/TK)

This article was published by Bıa news centre: www.bianet.org


(05/03/2008)