Kurdish director Kazim Oz detained

by Meghan Bodette    


Kazim Oz, a famous Kurdish film director from Turkey, has been detained on terror-related charges in Dersim, according to a post on his Instagram account. 

Oz is the director of 13 films: Zer, Çinara Sipî (documentary), Once Upon a Time (documentary), The Last Season: Shawaks (documentary), The Storm, Far Away (documentary), The Photograph, Ax (short), Teknede (documentary short), Wenda (short), Agire Jiyan: Rehsan (short), Ellerimiz Kanat Olacak Uçup Gidecegiz (documentary short), and El Yordamiyla Renkler (documentary short). 

His most recent film, Zer, tells the story of Jan, a young Kurdish man who discovers his family's secret history through a song that his grandmother, a survivor of the Dersim massacre, sung to him. It was screened around the world and nominated for several awards at several international film festivals. 

Zer was screened in Turkey on multiple occasions, despite facing censorship. The film was shot in Turkey, and recieved partial funding from the Turkish Ministry of Culture— before the agency changed course and began to attempt to suppress it.  

"When Jan, the main character, arrives in Dersim province, he walks through a village where he sees billboards and political graffiti about the massacre of 1938. It’s important to point out that both the billboards and the graffiti were already there when my crew and I arrived to shoot the scene. We didn’t create any of the images or write the slogans – we simply filmed what we saw. The censors also noted another scene in which Jan encounters some Kurdish paramilitaries in a forest, and then of course there is the footage of the massacre itself," Oz told Rudaw English in a 2018 interview. 

Oz replaced the cited footage with a black screen rather than cutting it completely, to show audiences that state censorship had taken place. 

Turkey does not officially recognize the atrocities that took place in Dersim, in which anywhere between 13,000 and 40,000 Kurds were systematically murdered and thousands more were forcibly deported between 1937 and 1938.

Turkey's most recent crackdown on Kurdish rights and general dissent has not spared the media. Turkey currently jails more journalists and media workers than any other country in the world, and has shut down Kurdish newspapers and television channels for supposed production of "terror propaganda."