In 2013, Heval Bozbay had accomplished most of his dreams. The member of the Kurdish minority in Turkey had finished his studies in Turkish archaeology. As a staff junior professor at a well renowned university, he participated in and published about important excavations.
But when the young academic dared to question policies and intentions of the national ministry of culture, troubles started. “Constructive criticism is an essential tool to better any system”, Heval Bozbay told “Voices for Freedom” six years after he was banned from any excavation site by the ministry.
And this was only the beginning. Two years after, on the height of brutal clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish rebels, Heval Bozbay together with more than 2.500 both Turkish and Kurdish academics petitioned president Recep Tayyib Erdogan and his government to end all military operations and to return to the negotiating table.
The answer came swiftly. President Erdogan labelled the academics as traitors and active supporters of Kurdish terrorism. At his behest police investigators and prosecutors filed charges against the “enemies of the nation”. Their contracts with universities, scientific institutes and all other Turkish learning institutions were terminated.
Heval Bozbays dreams laid in shutters.
So, he moved to the central province of Cappadocia to open a “cultural coffeehouse”. But as a Kurd in a cultural and religious conservative environment he was singled out almost immediately. Anti-terror police units raided his little shop. Islamists and members of a rightwing nationalistic youth organization marched on the “cultural coffeehouse”. The local prosecutor opened a file regarding his financial statements.
Heval Bozbay closed his outlet and moved to Istanbul, from where he followed an invitation by the Hamburg Foundation for politically persecuted people.
The young and promising archaeologist stands exemplary for a growing number of well-educated Turkish citizens of all ethnicities and walks of life who are ostracized by nationalistic and Islamic ideologies and eventually forced to leave their homeland.
Turkey is facing a serious economic crisis already. The financial system is under increasing pressure. Corruption runs havoc. The independence of the judicial system is under constant threat. In this situation to have to cope additionally with the government induced brain drain has let to growing disaffection with Mr. Erdogan’s stay in power.
In the meantime, Heval Bozbay is trying to reshape his life and aspirations. In his opinion he won’t have a chance to return being a Kurdish-Turkish archaeologist: “Even though President Erdogan eventually will be ousted, the deep state’s mignons will continue to follow his politically motivated orders.”
But parallel to writing children books on the ancient cultural and archaeological heritage in today’s Turkey, he’s been offered to write his PHD thesis. “And maybe one day I will succeed being a Kurdish-Turkish archaeologist at an excavation site in Iraq.”