Magazine journalists to honor Ahmet Kaya

Magazine journalists to honor Ahmet Kaya

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Magazine journalists to honor Ahmet Kaya

The Ahmet Kaya Special Award will honor the late singer 12 years after his death. Hürriyet photo

The Magazine Journalists Association (MGD) has unveiled a special new honor named after the late Ahmet Kaya as a posthumous apology to the singer after he was attacked at the group’s 1999 awards for declaring his wish to write songs in Kurdish.

This year’s award was presented yesterday to Kaya’s bağlama player and orchestra conductor, Ümit Yılmaz, who received the award – which will be given annually, from journalist Savaş Ay, a close friend of Kaya. Kaya’s widow, Gülten Kaya, told daily Sabah that the MGD officials had been discussing the establishment of an Ahmet Kaya Special Award for two years.

“Ahmet Kaya was a musician; an award with his name should have already been presented. But I will be happier if they compensate for that night … with an award,” she said, adding that she was very happy with the decision.

“Even though the association was not directly involved, the incidents which caused Kaya to go into exile in France and then sent him to his death happened on a night hosted by this association. It is also a pleasure that Yılmaz has received the first award,” she said.

Speaking about the award, the MGD’s Reyhan Özdemir said Yılmaz had worked as Kaya’s orchestra conductor for 10 years and played the bağlama on his all albums. “He told us that he would be honored with this award.”

Özdemir also said the MGD was innocent in the incident that took place in 1999 during the award ceremony and that officials with the association were sorry about the attack.

About the incident

On Feb. 10, 1999, Kaya took the stage at the annual MGD awards to receive the honor for the musician of the year.

Before singing a song, he said: “I thank all the people of Turkey for the award. I also have a statement; I will sing a Kurdish song on my next album that I will release in the near future. I will also make a music video for this song. I know that there are brave television stations that will air this music video. If they don’t air it, I don’t know how they will face the Turkish public.”

This speech drew a hostile reaction from famous figures in the ceremony like pop singer Serdar Ortaç.

“You must accept the Kurdish reality,” Kaya said as guests began flinging knives and forks at him.

The incident led to Kaya’s prosecution, forcing him to head for France.

On Nov. 16, 2000, Kaya died of a heart attack in Paris, where he is now buried.