Meet Ibrahim Parlak
"I decided as a Kurdish person and as a Kurdish writer to challenge the
undemocratic and inhumane policy of the Turkish state and publish this
book. I wrote and published it in 1968 in Istanbul. With the help of my
friends I distributed it throughout Kurdistan, Istanbul, and Ankara. It
was banned immediately.
When I went to Diyarbakir, they arrested me.
They took me to trial, and the court asked me, 'Why did you write
this?' I said, 'This language is a live language and people are
speaking this language, and as a person in this area, I wanted to help
people learn to read and write.' But he sent me to prison, and on the
paper he signed, he wrote that my crime was to try to divide Turkey
through this book, which is only sixty-four pages. I was in prison for
four months. Then they released me, but Alfabe was still banned. The
trial continued for six years, until 1974.
This book continues to be banned in Turkey. It was the first Kurdish
alphabet book in Latin letters in northern Kurdistan, and it is the
only alphabet book in the world that is banned."
Interview with Mehmed Emin Bozarslan, living in Sweden, October 1993
Ibrahim Parlak was born in 1962 to a farmer's family in southeastern
Turkey, in the village of Sakarat. He attended elementary school in
Sakarat and high school in the city of Gaziantep. On the farm the
family tended cows and sheep, and grew cotton, wheat and melons. As one
of ten children, Ibrahim helped with the farm when he was not in
school. At home, the family spoke mostly Kurdish, though the language
was banned by the Turkish government. Village teachers hired by the
Turkish government were instructed to listen at the windows to hear if
a family was speaking in Kurdish. If so, they could be jailed for
In 1971 after a military coup, Turkish soldiers came through the houses
of his village, burning books. His parents, who could not read, had
taught their children reading was important. In their house they had
books about politics, philosophy and history. When Ibrahim saw his
parents burning their own books because they were afraid, he grew very
upset. He gathered all the books he could hold and carried them out to
a field, where the soldiers could not find them.
Ibrahim spent time in his high school years learning more about Kurdish
culture, and what it meant to be a Kurd. One day he found himself
teaching Kurdish children to read and write in Kurdish, then being
chased by Turkish police and soldiers with guns. Each day, one could
read news of children (punished) for selling Kurdish newspapers,
Kurdish teachers found dead, villages bombed during the New Year's
celebration, and Kurds persecuted for speaking their native language.
After high school Ibrahim went to Europe, hoping to find a place where
he would be free to express his identity and beliefs. He spent time
teaching the Kurdish people in Europe about their culture, and
organizing cultural events that were prohibited in Turkey. He learned
more about Kurdish culture and history, and wished to share this
knowledge with the Kurds in Turkey; he felt that Kurdish culture was in
danger of disappearing. He also wished to encourage the Kurds to stand
up for their rights to be treated humanely and with dignity.
Ibrahim returned to Turkey in 1988. Because the government had denied
him travel documents, he could not enter the country openly. After a
few months of living in hiding he was discovered, tortured, and
sentenced to 16 months in prison for the crime of separatism.
The full details
of these events are cited in Key Facts, as
well as Legal documents provided on