We met with Ruknettin Gün, co-artistic director of Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality Theatre (DBŞT), who was suspended from his job at an unknown, out of the way café.
Gün: “They try to discipline the artists with hunger”
Let us give the reason for this in his own words:
“For now, we do not have a stage where we could do this interview. Likewise, we are not doing this interview in the street so that they won’t block the filming. That’s the condition of this region.”
Gün says that the trustee cancelled the contracts of 31 actors working for the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality Theatre on January 5, 2017:
“According to the 2. Paragraph of Article 49 of the regulation, the contract renewals for one-year-contracted personnel are under the mayor’s authorization. For this reason, our friends were transferred to other departments since their “diplomas did not match with the field they were working in”.
Me and a friend of mine graduated from theatre. But our contracts were also not renewed with reference to Article 49, which was at the trustee’s disposal. By cancelling the contracts, they tried to discipline the artists with hunger.”
“We had become the regional theatre”
Gün says that Amed City Theatre was reaching 35 thousand spectators every year, that it was periodically going on tour, and that it had become the theatre of the region. The number of audience members had especially increased with the Kurdish repertoire. Thus, in addition to Turkey, it extended to Europe, Iranian Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Gültan Kışanak and Fırat Anlı, Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality Co-Mayors of Democratic Regions Party were detained on October 25, 2016 and were arrested on October 30. Cumali Atilla, governor of Etimesgut province in Ankara, was appointed as a trustee in their place on November 1.
Students were left without education
Gün explains the trustee’s approach to art under the umbrella of municipality:
“They do not tolerate art. Aram Tigran Conservatory, which offered education in five art disciplines since 2010 and Ceğerxwin Culture and Arts Center, which graduated 100 art students a year were shut down.”
After the arrest of Mehmet Ali Aydın, Co-Mayor of Kayapınar Municipality, on December 8, Governor Mustafa Kılıç was appointed as a trustee. Right after, artistic production in the Ceğerxwin Culture and Arts Center, which was a center of the municipality, stopped.
Cegerxwin Culture and Arts Center had 300 students in its cinema, singing, instrument, folk dance and painting departments. When it was graduating 100 students a year, it employed 30 teachers.
The most important culture and arts center in the region since 2010, every year 5 conferences, 40 seminars, 30 panels, 20 meetings, 20 openings, 20 stage plays and 40 film screenings were held at Cegerxwin’s hall. At its exhibition hall, 30 photography, sculpture and painting exhibitions were held each year. It had a 300-person capacity library and hosted the FilmAmed Festival every year.
As in Diyarbakır, the trustees appointed to the municipalities of Batman and Hakkari also de facto closed the theatres. Most of the employees were sacked while some of them were sent to other departments.
After the termination of their contracts, artists in Diyarbakır Metropolitian Municipality Theater established Amed City Theater as an alternative in the basement of Galerya Business Center.
Akkuzu: “The audience was questioning”
Now a new era for theatre has started. We met with Yavuz Akkuyu, one of the Amed City Theater actors, in their new place.
“The AKP mentality has slyly approached art as well. From the outside the City Theatre seems to exist but all the artists were sacked. So there is a theatre but it is de facto closed.
“Why were we sacked? Because the audience was seriously questioning things at our plays.
“Why were we sacked? Because we were presenting experimental works in addition to stage plays. We were oriented towards a new discourse and a new art form”.
“We are still baffled”
The theater, which had been focusing on world classics for the last five years, has been staging the plays in Kurdish since the 2006/2007 season.
Akkuzu says that they were staging four big plays and two children’s play every year, and explains why they have established the alternative place:
We were the most settled theatre group in Kurdistan and we were making art, so they did not want this. Theoretically, we must be baffled by the fact that they don’t want it. If you lose your bafflement you lose your humanity. People have a tendency to not be baffled. When we say “AKP always does this” we lose our humanity. I am still baffled by these actions since it makes life more lively and vivacious. Not to be baffled seems fatal to me. Our problem is to be baffled when we are sharing what we produce with the audience. Since we were still able to be baffled, we felt the energy to establish a new place.”
“Both we and our audience might be sought out”
The State Theatre is the only place other than Amed City Theatre where theatre plays are staged. According to Akkuzu, it is an inadequate place for artistic production.
Akkuzu thinks that the State Theatre will be a model for the trustee:
“Now the trustees will possibly do a bad copy of the State Theater. After the trustee, we were unable to produce art in the municipality’s venue. We couldn’t do this because our audience might have been sought out or one of our names could have been on the wanted list”