Turkish-Kurdish singer Rojin: "I don’t want to be treated like a criminal"

March 2010 -

Relationships between Kurds and the Turkish authorities continue to be turbulent. Even though it appears that the Turkish government's democratisation plan – which involves granting more rights to Kurds – will be implemented, Kurds still demonstrate regularly in Istanbul. The career of the Turkish-Kurdish singer and actress Rojin has also been riddled with incidents. Rojin is very popular in Turkey and regularly appears in the news, though frequently not because this is her preference.


"Last year I was celebrating my birthday in a club and agents came storming in, claiming that the ban on smoking was being violated." The singer is not militant, but does make clear choices. When the Turkish government launched a Kurdish broadcasting channel on TRT6 in 2009, Rojin was given a talk show. "I was happy with the initiative, but they made it virtually impossible for me to work. They suspected that there was some secret message behind every sentence I uttered, which meant I was continually at loggerheads with the authorities. Ultimately I was censured and I gave up the show. I was regarded as a criminal and I don’t want to be treated that way."

Rojin has not had it easy as an actress, either. "I worked at a theatre company that was subsidised by the state. At a certain moment I was fired because I had also worked on Kurdish films." Since the release of her CD by Sony, the singer has had many hits, including some Kurdish songs. "I am not a purist; I sing Turkish songs, as well. Nor do I have a particular language preference. After all, you don’t ask children whom they love more - their father or their mother, do you?" Rojin frequently writes her songs herself, but she has also translated songs by the Canadian singer Loreena McKennit. Rojin's music generally has a folk-like character, but Deq Dövme, her most recent CD, also includes rock guitars.

In the context of the Turkey Now Festival, Rojin will be giving concerts in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, on 27 and 28 March 2010, respectively.