Iconic Kurdish musician returns to Turkey after 38 years of exile to 'sing for peace'

Iconic Kurdish musician returns to Turkey after 38 years of exile to 'sing for peace'

Iconic Kurdish musician returns to Turkey after 38 years of exile to sing for peace

Şivan Perwer (R) is greeted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the Diyarbakır Governor's Office on Nov 16. AA photo

Legendary Kurdish musician Şivan Perwer has returned to Turkey for the first time in 38 years to perform a concert with his hometown compatriot from Şanlıurfa, İbrahim Tatlises, as part of Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani’s visit to Diyarbakır today. 

Perwer has spent almost his entire adult life and career as an artist in exile in Germany and refused to come back to Turkey until a solution to the Kurdish issue was found. There have been constant rumors over the years about Perwer making special duet concerts with Turkish pop musicians, such as Sezen Aksu or Tarkan, either in southeastern Turkey or in Arbil, but all plans have failed to materialize. 

Such a concert has finally taken place alongside Tatlıses, a singer of Kurdish roots who followed the polar opposite career path from Perwer, staying in Turkey to become the most acclaimed folk icon in the country, as well as a businessman with commercial interests ranging from bus companies, to çiğ köfte to television.

Perwer entered Turkey this morning from the Habur crossing in Şırnak’s Silopi district with Barzani’s convoy heading to Diyarbakır. 

Both Perwer and Tatlıses took the stage during a mass opening ceremony in front of a massive crowd. Their colorful, at times self-denigrating joint speech eclipsed the consequential political context of the ceremony attended both by Barzani and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and with the ongoing and stalled peace process on the agenda. 


Perwer and Tatlıses sing in Kurdish on the stage
in Diyarbakır. AA photo

Perwer told the Diyarbakır crowd that the event marked a historic day “of friendship, brotherhood and love.”

“I was a young man when I left here, I came back as an old man. I thank everyone who endeavored, whose heart beat and mind worked for this meeting,” Perwer said.

“Some rotted in prison, some, like us, fled and are slowly coming back … Now there is a new era, which is an era of friendship, peace and democracy. This country needs democracy,” he added.

In the same vein as Perwer, Tatlıses also spoke alternating between Turkish and Kurdish and commending the peace process. “With my brother Şivan, we didn’t come here for glory or fame, but for peace,” Tatlıses said

After colorful jokes, both Perwer and Tatılıses started to sing the song “Megri” (Mom, don’t cry), improvising the lyrics, “Peace is coming. Mom, don’t cry. Dad, don’t cry.”

Both singers took the stage again during a collective wedding ceremony, Perwer singing the melodies with his baritone voice, and Tatlıses – who is still recovering from injuries suffered in an attempt on his life – with his characteristic high-pitched style. 

The latter also announced that should he have a new son, he will name it “peace.”