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Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tarkan Visits Ex-Militant Sympathiser

Şivan Perwer on Tarkan/CNN Türk
A news interview on CNN Türk has revealed that Turkish singer Tarkan met in secret with Kurdish musician Şivan Perwer, who is known for his past ties with outlawed militant group the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Widely regarded as one of the most acclaimed Kurdish artists from Turkey, Perwer has said that he would like to give a special concert together with the Turkish "king of the pop" Tarkan, during an interview aired on March 22 on private broadcaster CNN Türk. Perwer said that Tarkan came in secret to Erbil in northern Iraq as his guest for two days, during which they had long discussions. "I was told not to tell anyone, but what does it matter? He has a very beautiful soul. He is really a very good artist," Perwer said.

Perwer said he wished Turkish musicians and Kurdish artists would collaborate musically and sing together, adding that this would make the country a better place. "Turkish people listen to a number of foreign artists. I am the son of that country, why wouldn't they listen to me?" he asked, adding that he is ready to contribute if the ongoing peace process between the government and the outlawed PKK bears fruit.

Perwer, who lives in Germany in voluntary exile, refuses to come back to Turkey until a peaceful resolution is brokered for the region. However, his own relations with the PKK have become strained in recent years after he was threatened for taking a critical stance towards the underground organisation, following years of dedicated support.

He earned the praise of many in Turkey when he slammed PKK sympathisers during a concert in Holland in 2011, telling his audience to beware the allure of militancy and PKK militants, and to "watch [their] children if [they] don't want them to attack [their] own people and become clowns."

Meanwhile, responding to rumours a joint concert with pop diva Sezen Aksu was in the works, Perwer said that he had not been in direct contact with the singer. "I would be very happy if she calls. We have not been directly in contact until now, but we have transmitted our greetings," Perwer said.

The buzz from Tarkan's camp is that they are unhappy that Tarkan's secret visit was revealed at such a sensitive time. It is not known how the vast majority of Tarkan's Turkish fans will react to the pop entertainer's secret visit to an artist known for his previous strong ties to a anti-Turkish militant group, which has been described by the BBC as being "a thorn in Turkey's side for decades".

The PKK, with its Marxist-Leninist roots, was formed in the late 1970s. Since then, more than 40,000 people have killed, with militants effectively holding large parts of south-eastern Turkey hostage. During the conflict, which reached a peak in the mid-1990s, thousands of villages were destroyed in the largely Kurdish south-east and east of Turkey, and hundreds of thousands of Kurds fled to cities in other parts of the country.

The PKK's launch began as an armed struggle against the Turkish government in 1984, calling for an independent Kurdish state within Turkey, but gradually shifted its stance to greater autonomy for Turkey's Kurds, who are thought to comprise up to 20% of the population.

The group is regarded by Turkey, the United States and European Union as a terrorist organisation because of its attacks on Turkish security forces and civilians, and its enterprises with drug and human trafficking cartels.

The PKK has two sister parties in Iran and Syria with their own armed factions.

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