Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters fights to free Kurdish musician Nûdem Durak

After learning that her guitar was destroyed by guards two years into her prison sentence, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters has started a campaign to free the Kurdish singer-songwriter Nûdem Durak from prison.

Photo of Waters via Reuters

Duvar English

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters is waging a worldwide campaign involving some of the world’s most famous musicians to free Kurdish singer-songwriter Nûdem Durak from prison, Rolling Stone reports. 

“Nûdem Durak is our sister,” Waters said, “and we have an absolute responsibility to support her and the hundreds of thousands of others who continue to suffer her fate with false imprisonment and incarceration all over the world.”

Durak is currently serving a nineteen-year prison sentence in a prison in Turkey's northeastern province of Bayburt. She was arrested in 2015 as part of the widespread crackdown on the Kurdish regions of Turkey following the breakdown of peace talks between the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

Prior to her arrest, Durak worked and performed Kurdish music with a group called Koma Sorxwîn in the Cizre cultural center in the heavily Kurdish region near the Turkish border with Syria. The years before the breakdown of peace talks, Kurdish art, media and music was allowed to grow somewhat unabated.

However, in 2015 Durak was accused of having phone calls with alleged PKK members and visiting a location that turned out to be a PKK cell. She was convicted of “membership in a terrorist organization” and sentenced to 19 years in prison. Many Kurdish activists and members of the Kurdish community met the same fate in this era.

When Durak was sent to Bayburt, she was allowed to bring her guitar - which she bought with the proceeds from selling her mother’s wedding ring - in with her. However, two years into her sentence during a routine check, her guitar was destroyed. Guards severed its neck from its body.

This is what caught the attention of Waters, who then spread the word to many famous musicians around the world, including Pete Townshend, Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel and Brian May. He embarked on a research project into Durak’s case and began agitating for a retrial.

“Nûdem happens to be a Kurd. Her voice is connected to her soul and her soul will always sing for her family, her people, and her nation. As musicians, we can’t stop ourselves. Our truth is who we are and who we are born to be,” he said.

Now, Waters has sent the guitar he used on his 2017-18 Us + Them tour on a roundabout journey that will - hopefully - end in Durak’s cell. As the instrument makes its way through the US and Europe, musicians are inscribing messages of support on it for Durak.

“Her lawyer told me through an interpreter that she said that she felt free for the first time in six years. She’s not free,” Waters said.

On social media this weekend, Waters shared the Rolling Stone article outlining his campaign with a personal message for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Hey! President Erdoğan, please set Nûdem free! Love, R,” he wrote.