No ban on Kurdish songs in Turkish army: Minister
Umut Erdem ANKARAThere is no ban on Kurdish melodies or songs in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), in line with the institution’s principles against discrimination, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has stated, also stressing that conscripts are given courses on “tolerance and empathy.”
Yılmaz’s explanation came in response to a motion filed by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Diyarbakır deputy Nursel Aydoğan. The motion recalled media reports in June that administrative and judicial investigations were launched after it was claimed that 50 conscripts had danced the halay (a traditional folk dance) to a tune belonging to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Aydoğan said a number of Internet sites had targeted conscripts after a video showing them dancing and singing was released on social media, adding that news reports later said investigations had been launched against these soldiers.
“Is singing Kurdish songs during military service a crime? If it is not, what is the reason for the launching of the investigation? Does your ministry have any courses for conscripts showing that singing Kurdish songs and belonging to different linguistic, religious and ethnic groups is not a crime, but rather is richness?” she asked.
In his response, Yılmaz noted that courses on “fundamental rights and freedoms,” “freedom of faith and conscience” and “tolerance and empathy” were given to conscripts, as part of “moral and vocational values” classes. Courses are also given on patriotism and citizenship to all conscripts, he added.
“There is no practice of banning Kurdish melodies or songs within the Turkish Armed Forces, which has never discriminated against any of its members since its foundation,” Yılmaz said.
However, he did not go into details of the specific case that was reported, and did not mention whether an investigation into the incident was ongoing or not.
Back in June, reports cited Kayseri Governor Orhan Düzgün as saying that the 1st Commando Brigade Command, based in Kayseri, had launched an administrative investigation, while the Kayseri Prosecutor’s Office had launched a judicial investigation into the images that were claimed to have been recorded at the brigade.