Sahînê Bekirê Soreklî
Sahînê Bekirê Soreklî (Chahin Baker) (1946) is een Koerdisch auteur, dichter, journalist en vertaler. Hij werd geboren in het Koerdische gebied Kobani in Syrië. In de jaren zestig emigreerde hij van Duitsland naar Australië en studeerde er aan de
Macquarie Universiteit. Van 1979 tot 1985 stond hij aan het hoofd van de eerste Koerdische associatie in Australië. Hij werkte ook mee aan verschillende radioprogramma's over het Koerdisch. Zijn kortverhalen, artikels en gedichten werden gepubliceerd in verschillende Koerdische kranten en weekbladen en op verscheidene websites.
Op 18 en 19 april nam hij deel aan de Focus op Koerdische literatuur die Het beschrijf in samenwerking met het Koerdisch instituut in Passa Porta organiseerde.
In Belgium as a guest of Het beschrijf
When I first received a letter from Mr Derwich Ferho, president of the Kurdish Institute in Brussels, that I am one of seven Kurdish writers chosen to be invited to Brussels to participate in a forum concerning Kurdish language and literature, I appreciated the gesture and gave a positive answer, but I really wasn't sure whether the forum will indeed take place or not. The whole thing began to seem real when I received another letter from Darwich asking whether I would be interested in a residence program that would give me a chance to reside at a villa in Vollezele and write for about six weeks. His email was followed by others from bet het Beschrijf staff and suddenly the time to leave for Brussels was approaching real fast.
I was pleased to participate in the forum that gave me the chance to read a few lines from my work to the audience and take part in the discussion of issues relevant to the Kurdish language and literature. Thanks to the Kurdish Institute of Brussels, het Beshrijf and the Flemish Ministry for Culture I also had the opportunity to get acquainted with a number of interesting people, meet some friends I haven't seen for many years and others I knew by name but haven't had chance to meet.
After having a lovely dinner at a restaurant in Brussels some of us, accompanied by Brigitte Neervolort and Sigrid Busset, left the restaurant to the Passa Porta venue where we stayed till midnight to finalise the content of THE LETTER TO EUROPE that was going to be handed to Mr Bert Anciaux, the Flemish minister for culture, the next day.
Mr Anciaux's role in this initiative and his support for the rights of the Kurdish people have to be emphasised here. It was pleasure to meet him at the Flemish Ministry for Culture to hand him the letter addressed to Mr. Jan Figel, the European Commissioner Responsible for Culture. I do hope the European Commission will respond positively to our letter and do something constructive in regard to the Kurdish language and literature that have been suppressed for almost a century by the governments of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to familiarise myself with Belgium in the past. I did visit Brussels once with my family and drove through Belgium to France but that was a long time ago. I also read material here and there that indicated the Flemish government and people had sympathy with the Kurdish people. Occasionally I came across reports in the media regarding crisis that erupted in regard to the Dutch and French speaking Belgians. But I never had first hand experience as far as Belgium was concerned. Therefore this was a good opportunity for me to know Belgium and the Flemish people a little closer. I was fortunate to get acquainted with some very friendly and interesting people, see the Flemish country side and enjoy the Flemish cuisine.
Although my time in Brussels itself was limited, nevertheless I was impressed with the magnificent architecture of its palaces and churches and I enjoyed strolling in the streets of the old part of the city. It was great to be in a city with a tremendous atmosphere that gave it a unique multilingual character.
Ilke Froyen, Sigrid Busset, Brigitte Neervoort and all het Beschrijf, as well as Passa Porta, staff were extremely friendly and made us really feel at home.
Thanks to het Beschrijf my residence at Villa Hellebosch in Vollezele has been a very pleasant experience. The villa has interesting characteristics and could be described as a little art museum. Although not that far from Brussels, here you feel like being on a farm far away from busy centres. The spring and the fine weather, most of the time, were an additional bless. Our host Alexandra who herself is an artist made our stay at the villa that I shared with the American writer Tod Wodicka, and two other writers from Holland and Lebanon who stayed with us for a few days, very comfortable. I must also thank Paul Buekenhout for his friendliness and the assistance he offered. Special thanks also to Anna for her ever pleasant character and her delicious dishes.
There are some similarities between the landscape around Vollezele and the place I was born, although there are more trees here. My family's farm is located in northern Syria, 30 kilometers east of the point where the Euphrates River enters Syria from Turkey. The farm is five kilometers west of a town called Kobani. The inhabitants of the region are almost entirely Kurdish. In spring the whole area becomes green and the landscape, although more hilly, has some similar characteristics to that of Vollezele but in summer the scenery changes due to lack of rain. There are now more trees, mainly olive and pistachio trees, in the region where my big family lives. I say my big family because my small family, that is my wife (Australian of English background) two sons, and I live in Australia. I arrived in Sydney from Munich, where I was studying, in October 1968. Following my graduation from Macquarie University (Sydney) in 1977 I was employed by the NSW Department of Education and Training. I stayed with the department for twenty six years as a teacher of languages at high schools as well as in other positions. After retirement at the end of 2004, I continue to prepare and present the Kurdish Language Program on SBS RADIO, a program I have been presenting since 1985. Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) in Australia broadcasts radio programs in 67 community languages.
A few words about the Kurds in Syria: Unfortunately there are no official statistics regarding the number of the Kurds in Syria, however, the Kurds believe they number more than two million and make about 10% of the population in Syria. There are three Kurdish regions in Syria, one in north eastern Syria at the Syrian, Turkish and Iraqi borders, called the Jazira District, the second in northern Syria east and north of the Euphrates, called the Kobani District (Arabic name: Ain el Arab) and the third north of the Syrian town Aleppo called Afrin District (previously called ‘Kurdish Mountains'). All the three regions are adjoined to Turkey with Kurdish population on both sides of the border. The population depends mostly on agriculture. In the years with no rain or little of it people suffer tremendously as there are hardly other possibilities for employment.
Unfortunately written Kurdish remains forbidden in Syria. As a result Kurdish can neither be taught, nor used as the language of instruction in schools and universities. Consequently there is no broadcasting in Kurdish and legal newspapers and journals in this language do not exist.
My stay at Vollezele during the second half of April and most of May was productive and I hope useful. I wrote a number of new short stories in Kurdish, translated six of my stories into English and finished a literary prose, in Kurdish, under the title A LETTER TO MY FATHER. I also wrote an article about Belgium, the project in Brussels and Vollezele that was published in the Kurdish website Avesta: www.avestakurd.net.
On 26 May 2008 I will bid farewell to Vollezele and Belgium to start my long flight back to Australia. The people I met and the experience I enjoyed in Belgium will stay with me. After the lovely spring weather in Vollezele I need to prepare myself for the Australian winter. Luckily the winter where I live is not as harsh as in some European countries. Once again my sincere thanks to all the people and the organistaions that assisted in any way.
14.04.08 > 26.05.08