126 years of resistance tradition

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  • 11:05 21 April 2024
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AMED – 126 years have passed since the first publication of Kurdistan Newspaper. Stating that there was a great resistance against oppression and censorship in this process, journalist Mehmet Ali Ertaş said, "We must always protect and grow this heritage."

126 years have passed since the first issue of Kurdistan Newspaper was published. Mîqdat Mîdhat Bedirxan and his friends, who were exiled to Cairo, the capital of Egypt, published the first issue of the newspaper on April 22, 1898. Due to the pressures of the Ottoman Empire, the newspaper began to be published in Geneva from the 6th issue. Due to the pressure on the newspaper, which was published in Kurdish and Kurdish-Turkish, issues 20-23 were published in London, issues 24-29 were published in Folkston, and issues 30 and 31 were published again in Geneva. The newspaper, which was banned by the Ottoman Empire, was distributed secretly in the Kurdish regions, Damascus-Adana regions and Europe. The oppression policies towards the Kurdish press have not changed since the publication of the Kurdistan Newspaper. Kurdish journalists' resistance against oppression, ban and censorship has continued for 126 years.
One of these newspapers is Xwebûn Newspaper, which publishes weekly in Kurdish. Mehmet Ali Ertaş, one of the editors of the newspaper, evaluated the pressures on Kurdish journalists.
Reminding that Kurdish newspapers were first published outside the borders of Turkey, Ertaş explained this process as follows: “There are three moves. The first is the publication of the Kurdistan Newspaper. Then, on May 15, 1932, Hawar newspaper was published by Celadet Elî Bedirxan, Cegerxwîn and Osman Sebrî. The third move started in Istanbul under the leadership of Apê Musa and Gurbetelli Ersöz. Serxwebûn newspaper was published under the leadership of Mazlum Doğan.”
Emphasizing that journalism developed along with the resistance of the Kurds, Ertaş reminded that Bedirxans started resistance against the Ottomans during the period when the Kurdistan newspaper was published. Ertaş continued: “The Kurds were exiled then too. Kurds who were exiled to Cairo started Kurdish journalism there. We see that the pressure on the Kurds continues since then. Kurds also attach importance to journalism to make their voices heard to the world. Why is it important? Since the Kurds have always been subjected to oppression, denial and destruction policies, they had to make their voice heard to the world somehow. They had to announce their language, culture and history to the world and the public. That's why we can say that Kurdish journalism also means the voice and cry of the Kurds.”
Stating that the Kurdish press has progressed to a new stage with the development of the Kurds' freedom struggle in the 1990s, Ertaş pointed out that the Kurdish press has an important role in the Kurds embrace of their language and culture. Ertaş continued: “At that time, the press was not very developed, there were only newspapers. Since 1990, Yeni Ulke, Ozgür Ulke, Yeni Gündem, Ozgür Gündem, as well as Welat and Azadiya Welat have been published in Kurdish. Today, the legacy received from them continues with Xwebûn. As the Kurdish freedom movement developed people protected their language, culture and press."
Pointing out that the Kurdish press is the voice, eyes and language of the Kurds, Ertaş added: “If journalism declines in a nation, the memory of that society also declines. The history of that society is forgotten. But when journalism develops among a people, their eyes and ears are open and they are aware of what is going on. The Kurdish newspaper is not at the level we want. Yes, it has improved in many aspects, but it is not enough. Most Kurd young people in Turkey speak Turkish and do not read newspapers. We can address and solve this issue together. This has both a political and a cultural and social aspect. In this respect, all institutions that work on Kurdish language and culture should embrace Kurdish journalism. We, as the press, must organize more strongly.”
Adding that the Free Press has always faced pressure from the state, Ertaş reminded that Kurdish journalists were murdered in the 1990s. Stating that Kurdish journalists defended the Free Press under threats of murder until the 2000s, and then the pressures continued with arrests, Ertaş stated that today, the pressures continue with arrests, blocking, as well as censorship. Ertaş said: “They are directly interfering with the journalist in the field. They confiscate their cameras and camcorders. They take them into custody and threaten them. They block them somehow. They ban the areas where journalists want to go. Physical obstacles are too many today.”
Ertaş stated that everyone should embrace Kurdish journalism and said: “We owe it to Apê Mûsa and Gurbetelli, we owe it to Mazlum Doğan. That's why we must always protect and nurture this heritage. The press is indispensable for a people. Every Kurd should read more Kurdish and come and take part in press activities.”

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