A World Music Magazine

Halil Karapaşaoğlu
Poetry, War and Resistance in Cyprus

Grafitti by CRS

All over the world, independent artists and journalists are being harrassed, insulted, jailed and even murdered for doing their job, speaking truth to power. While occasionally one of these men or women becomes a cause célèbre in the global media, so many more slip under our collective radar in the daily onslaught of news we endure each day.

One such case is that of Halil Karapaşaoğlu, a poet and activist in Cyprus. He was arrested this month for refusing to serve in the Turkish Cypriot military, and refusing to pay the fine of 2000 lira (about 450.00 US dollars). He will serve jail time instead, stating, “If tomorrow there is a war, we as anti-militarists, will not fight... Our grandfathers and fathers had fought in the past, we will not make the same mistake. Our duty towards our country is peace… In the 21st century we don’t see our friends in the south as enemies, we don’t see anyone in the world as an enemy.”

I was alerted to this story by Cypriot musician and friend of RootsWorld Antonis Antoniou, a member of the ensemble Monsieur Doumani, who offered this personal commentary:

Our good friend Cypriot poet Halil Karapaşaoğlu has been convicted and sentenced to 20 days in prison by the Turkish military court. Why? Because he loves poetry more than weapons, because he desires peace rather than conflict, because he refuses to hold a gun against his Cypriot friends. This is where humanity has been led today. Everything is twisted and perverted. Politicians and militants have their own agendas.

Halil is Turkish-speaking Cypriot poet. He owns an alternative performance venue in Nicosia, one of the best and most active on the island. He is an amazing person, very peaceful, kind and helpful with everyone. It's hard to meet this kind of people these days. We performed at his venue several times either as a band or as DJs at bi-communal parties. Halil believes in peace; he is a true pacifist, a genuine human being that only wants the good for humanity and the environment.

The military is very well established on our island and unfortunately they are very powerful in both sides. Halil refused to serve in the army, he refused to take up the gun, and for this he got sentenced for imprisonment from a military court in North Nicosia, which is of course controlled by the Turkish authorities. This is a very sad moment, but at the same time it is a very important step, as his action has become a symbol, and more people are following his path (including the president and general secretary of the press workers union).

This is what a true patriot is about; fighting for peace, and standing up for the well-being of the people living on our island. We should stay strong. Love and art are our guns.

Antonis also sent this poem and song in support of Halil:

    I’m grabbing my shotgun, given to me despite my will
    Oh and oh, my dear, my soul, my sweet flower
    Throwing it down the cliff will certainly break it
    Oh, let it suffer, my soul is blossoming
    A snake bit me and died within the hour
    Because my blood was filled with fire, with lightning, with storm
    All the stars in the sky, all the greens in the forests
    Will help me with their might
    In this good world that has been almost drowned
    May there be drinking, may there be kissing
    May there be a beautiful feast

You can follow this story in The Cyprus Mail
The song is from the recording Angathin (The Thorn) by Monsieur Doumani.

Graffiti image by CRS
Audio by Monsieur Doumani



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