Artist Erkan Benli tells his struggle in Nusaybin and his artworks in prison

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MARDİN - Imprisoned musician Erkan Benli tells about what happened in Mardin's Nusaybin district 4 years ago saying that "We resisted till the end".

The curfews declared in Mardin's usaybin district on March 14 2016, was removed on July 25, 2016 partially and then fully on April 21 2018. The incidents of heavy armed conflicts were recorded in the history as the "Nusaybin Syndrome". 
 
The 70 civilians, including 17 children, who were evacuated from Nusaybin after the incidents were taken into custody and they have been exposed to heavy physical torture during the custody. 44 people were sentenced heavy penalties of prisons. In the case files opened against the imprisoned, the information that 69 police, soldiers and village guards were killed and that 528 military force members were injured was shared. On the other hand, Civil Defence Units (YPS) announced that 51 of their members were killed. After the curfews were lifted, the deceased bodies of YPS members were given back to their families after many years as some of the bodies are still awaiting in the cemetery of the nameless to be given back to their families.
 
One of the 44 imprisoned regarding these incidents is artist Erkan Benli. Erkan Benli was among the ones, who were evacuated on the 72th day of the curfew from the Nusaybin district and he has been imprisoned in Samsun Bafra Type T Closed Prison. 
 
The imprisoned artist Erkan Benli talked to Mezopotamya Agency about what they lived through in Nusaybin regarding the anniversary of their evacuation from the city. As the imprisoned artist answers our questions via the letters, he emphasized in his letters that "I had to use a plain rhetoric for my letters to pass from the Prison Letter Control Commision".
 
Between March 14-May 26 2016 there happened intensive incidents in Nusaybin. How was that process?
 
There was no result in the negotiations. We could not put up with such a treatment and frivolity. The freedom struggle of the Kurdish people shall of course succeed.
In order to understand how this process ended up this way, one should know what happened before when the efforts of dialogue and peace wwere ruined and people began to die and the dark clouds arrived on top of the country. After long years of efforst and pain, everybody was focused on the Dolmabahçe Negotiation in 2013, where the frame of solution was completed. According to this consensus the Kurdish were to be given the status of autonomy as part of a democratic constitution. However, this process war sabotaged by certain lobies in the state. DEspite all the peaceful efforts, the biggest demand of the Kurdish and Turkish people, which is peace could not find the necessary grounds.
 
How would you describe your perspective behind your demands?
 
There was no result in the negotiations up until now. We could not put up with such a treatment and frivolity. So the process of self-governance and re-construction was initiated with a common scope of struggle and negotiation. After this decision, people declared their self-governance in various cities. Then the people declared that they had nothing to do with the state anymore, they have built their own governance and in case that the state would interfere with it they would not hesitate to self-defense. This democratic demand of our people was given response with gross pressure and attacks. Against those attacks, the revolutionary youth organizations, which were on legal status, took active role. The conflicts were among the youth organizations and the military forces of the state. As the conflicts grew, revolutionary youth organizations took a new decision to form Civil Defense Units. In the future, the freedom struggle of the Kurdish people shall succeed. We have given a struggle of democracy. We have targeted self-governance. I could basically tell this.
 
 Our legitimate defense principle was as follows; If we were strong enough to defeat the whole world, we would not attack anyone, and if the whole world came upon us, we would resist till the end to protect our rights. We did it the same way and resisted till the end.
 
How should people evaluate your defense speeches?
 
The defences we have made before the court are based scientific grounds. So our defences are about the truth. Our defences have been constructed in such a way that they take into account the feeling of responsibility far from the feeling of destiny, on a common praxis which involed a common consciousness. Extremely authoritarian, centralist and hegemonic panel of judges demanded us to be seperately trialed. Such an attitude from a judicial authority, who claims to be impartial, is of course not coincidental. According to us all the values of justice were trampled with such preceedings. Therefore no one should expect anything from such authorities. These institutions shall be sought to be transformed via the social struggle. 
 
 
According to us all the values of justice were trampled with such preceedings. Therefore no one should expect anything from such authorities. These institutions shall be sought to be transformed via the social struggle.
How would you tell those 4 years in prison with your identity as an artist? Do you have new songs and compositions?
 
It was always my dream to see the salvation in the fields of art and culture as well. I try to produce my art work here as well with great passion and love, even though I am far away from the stages. I find it very important to built academies for culture and art. These academies should be the centers for the society  to achieve an aesthetical cognition. Ateshgahs of Zaratustra, the light-gardens of Mani, Ionian schools of philosophy, the Christian monastries on the mountain slopes, revolutionary free universities and let's say the Frankfurt School had this heritage. They have done a lot to contribute to that purpose.
 
So I can say that I have focused myself to this legacy. I have composed three songs until now those of which I also wrote the lyrics. I am more focusing on writing lately. 
 
Is there any message you would like to share with the public opinion outside the walls?
 
I would like to give reference to a beautiful quote from Einstein: "As long as they are not poisoned by propaganda, people do not support war. The cornerstone of the social peace is the society. This virus tells us to raise solidarity. The truth of the societies is that the languages and cultures live together. And this is their right, as well. However, there is an in between social level, which make us of the ignorance, the oligarchy. Another social level is the capitalists. I wish that the upcoming period would be an era of democracy and equality where the exploitation ends, starting with the peoples of the Middle East. I send my thank you and my regards to you all.
 
MA / Ahmet Kanbal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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