Turkish authorities ban unprecedented Kurdish-language play

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Turkish authorities have banned a Kurdish-language play that was due to be shown on Tuesday in Istanbul’s municipal theatre for the first time in its 106-year history, organizers told AFP.

The play “Beru” was included in the October program of the Istanbul Municipality City Theatre, which is funded by the opposition-run municipality, to much fanfare.

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No reason was given for the last-minute ban, but the Turkish state has long had a troubled relationship with its Kurdish minority.

The municipal theatre has 10 stages dotted round Istanbul and had decided to take on some work from independent theatres that are struggling in the coronavirus pandemic.

“Beru” was translated into Kurdish from “Trumpets and Raspberries,” a piece of work by Nobel Literature Prize winner Dario Fo, an Italian satirist and playwright.

It was due to be shown in the Gaziosmanpasa neighborhood at 1730 GMT, performed by Teatra Jiyana Nu (New Life Theatre), an independent theatre group.

The decision to ban the play was made by the local administration in Gaziosmanpasa and the theatre was only informed at 1300 GMT, one of the organizers told AFP.

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AKP government took steps to improve cultural and linguistic rights as part of its Kurdish initiative announced in 2009 when he was prime minister.

These included allowing Kurdish-language institutions and media outlets, and kindergartens that teach children in Kurdish.

But with the resumption of violence in the Kurdish majority southeast between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after the collapse of a fragile truce 2015, the government has launched a crackdown on Kurdish media organizations and culture centers.

That has increased in the aftermath of a failed 2016 coup.

The government has removed 48 elected mayors of Kurdish-run municipalities and replaced them with “trustees”. Dozens of pro-Kurdish politicians have been arrested on terrorism charges.

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