The only “Kurdish media training office in Turkey” is 2 years old
The Diyarbakir office of Botan International, which was set up with the support of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), is now two years old.
Botan International’s media training office is the first Kurdish media training office in the history of the Turkish state, and RSF is the first international organisation to support a Kurdish media office in Turkey.
The office was established in August 2021 and has been open every day since its establishment, except for the two weeks when the earthquake hit Diyarbakir.
The office has a studio, a workshop room/news center, and an interview room, which journalists and NGOs can use free of charge.
These services are now run with the support of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED).
Number of workshops and meetings organised by BotanInt and NGOs at the BotanInt office: 61
Number of participants in Botan International workshops: 318 (women: 204, men: 114)
Number of videos and podcasts recorded free of charge by journalists and CSOs
Number of video programmes recorded in the studio: 946
Number of podcast programmes recorded in the studio: 711
Number of foreign journalists working in our office: 42 (they were kind enough to leave notes in our guestbook in 16 languages)
Number of local journalists and institutions that have benefited: There is no exact figure because there is a lot of sequestration, but there is no doubt that BotanInt office is the most active media office in Diyarbakır.
Until August 14, 2023;
The number of articles and news stories published on botantimes.com
In Kurdish 2.052
Translated into English: 174
Botan International, the first and only Kurdish media training organization in the history of the Turkish state, was established in Şırnak in 2020 and started its Digital Media Workshops online due to the pandemic.
BotanInt organized the first two workshops with the financial support of Zuzan Barwari, Diyar Mizûrî, Ali Bayram and the salaries earned by Murat Bayram as a freelance journalist.
Murat Bayram was also the sole employee of the company. Vahdet Uçar started working when the Diyarbakir office was established in August 2021, Semiha Yıldız and Ekrem Yıldız started at the end of the year.
Today, BotanInt has 8 employees, 22 contract authors, and 23 trainers.
Representing BotanInt, Murat Bayram wrote 6 reports on the situation of Kurdish media in Turkey and suggestions for improvement. These reports were sent to 5 news websites, more than 100 news portals quoted them in their news.
Bayram attended 43 meetings, and Vahdet Uçar attended 1 international meeting. The speaker at 14 meetings was a BotanInt representative.
We had diplomatic contacts. Germany Ambassador to Ankara, Jürgen Schulz and UK Embassy in Ankara, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission, Turkey, Marianne Young visited our office.
This short film takes you back to the 1980s in Turkey, where the Kurdish language and music were forbidden. Watch as soldiers try to prevent the music from being played at a wedding, only to be left powerless when they hear the sounds of a neighbouring Kurdish village across the Syrian border.
Kurdish media education is banned in Turkey. Workshops are not in the status of education but in the status of information exchange activities such as panels and symposiums. That’s why we organise workshops. We couldn’t publish a book that could be considered a ‘textbook’ for workshops. Activities with educational status can be a textbook.
BotanInt published the Kurdish Digital Media e-book in 2022 as the “Self-Learning Kurdish Digital Media Article Series”. It’s definitely not a textbook, but a series of articles in preparation for workshops. These articles are lecture notes from trainers who teach.
In the projects we ran with RSF, we wanted workshop participants to produce a news item or programme. We paid royalties for these works. botantimes.com was launched as a site where these news would be published.
In 2023, with the support of EED, two female journalists, Beril Caymaz and Gülistan Korban, who had previously participated in the workshop, started working as editors.
This changed the male-female ratio of BotanInt’s 7 staff members to 5 women and 2 men.
In 2023, by the support of the Chrest Foundation: Semiha Yıldız became the editor of the podcast, Ekrem Yıldız became the editor of the opinion service. 22 authors started to write for the website under a contract. It was inevitable that we would become by far the most read Kurdish website in Turkey.
BT has become the only in Kurdish website in Turkey where people from completely different parties and ideas can see themselves in its stories and articles.
We translate the reports and statements of journalist organisations such as RSF, IPI, MLSA, DFG, TGS into Kurdish.
According to open sources, there are Turkish media departments in 76 universities in Turkey. the majority; There are more than 200 Turkish media education programs supported by the European Union.
There was no media education in Kurdish, so there were no journalists who gave education in Kurdish.
Hatice Kamer, who works for the BBC, has 22 years of journalism experience, Mahmut Bozarslan, who works for AFP and VOA, has 27 years of journalism experience; Reuters’ very successful photographer Sertaç Kayar and 20 more journalists and experts started to share their experiences in Kurdish in our workshops.
Botan International offered Kurdish journalists with international journalism experience to organize workshops in their own language for Kurdish youth.
23 “local” journalists did a fantastic job. Then we published these trainings in the form of an e-book (article series).
We are very pleased that the same trainers started to give lectures outside of our trainings (Mesopotamia Foundation, New Life Association, DAKAHDER, Podcast Kurdi…).
We lent our equipment for 3 months to journalists whose equipment such as cameras and microphones were destroyed in the earthquake. (We gave 4 of our 5 cameras to the journalists).
On the 15th day after the earthquake, engineers from the Ministry and NGOs reported that BotanInt’s office was safe.
We gave a room for 3 months to the staff of the news portal Sur Ajans, whose offices were destroyed.
There were very few restaurants open after the earthquake. BotanInt staff put part of their salaries in a box for food. Every day, two BotanInt staff members volunteered to cook meals for the journalists.
We checked the working conditions of journalists in the cities affected by the earthquake and informed our partners.
Botan International is building a robot reporter with the Erbil-based artificial intelligence company OVANYA.
Very little news from the world press is translated into Kurdish media. Kurdish-language media cover only a limited range of issues. International news is often translated from Turkish news sources. But these sources select the news according to their own perspective.
Rony translates the news from 109 languages into Kurdish, makes a short summary, adds the link to the news source and sends it to the editor.
She has an editorial memory. She records her editor’s movements and observes from which perspective she approaches them. She also has a translation memory. It notes what the editor emphasises in the translations.
Now you can only select 10 media and one search term at a time. Of course, you can also specify a time period.
For example, you can search for the term “environment” on 10 US sites. Rony compiles the news from these sources on the dates you specify, translates it into Kurdish, adds the links and presents it as a draft. He then records your interventions in the news.
OVANYA and BotanInt do this work on a voluntary basis. We anticipate that the building can be completed within 3 months.
It is estimated that one out of every four people in Turkey is Kurdish, which means more than 20 million people.
The Kurdish community highly values the work of Botan International. The award-winning director Bilal Korkut made the documentary about Botan International. In an animated film, Semiha Yıldız, the most famous Kurdish animated film director, portrayed the hero as the dragon in the Botan International logo, who helped rescue the Kurds on a ship approaching the sea.
Her Majesty, the last Kurdish princess Sinemxan Bedirxan, thanked RSF in French for its support of Botan International.
BotanInt’s work has been included in more than 20 academic studies.
If you meet someone working in Kurdish in Turkey: an academic, an artist, a filmmaker, a theater actor, or a Kurdish writer there is a 90% chance that he or she is a reader of Botan Times.
Our international partners:
Reporters Without Borders (RSF), European Endowment for Democracy (EED), Chrest Foundation, Kurdish American Education Society, Global Native Services, Minority Rights Group International (MRGI).
*BotanInt became a permanent partner in 2023 after a two-year project partnership with RSF.
Our partners in Turkey:
Amed Radio TV, Perxudres Podcast, Hûrbînî Podcast, Podcast Kurdî, IPS Foundation/bianet, News Lab Turkey, Kurdish Studies Centre, TransGate.
Number of international projects completed: 8
Number of current international projects: 3
CEO and Founder: Murat Bayram
Manager: Yonca Sarsilmaz
Accountant: İbrahim Yeşilçimen / Düzen Muhasebe
Editor/translator: Yonca Sarsılmaz firstname.lastname@example.org
Webdeveloper: Şeyhmus Baykal
Botan Times Weekly magazine design: Ridwan Xelîl
Editor in chief: Murat Bayram – email@example.com
Editor/reporter: Gulistan Korban Rençber – firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor/reporter:: Berîl Caymaz – email@example.com
Webdeveloper: Şeyhmus Baykal
Botan Times magazine design: Ridwan Xelîl
Editor in chief: Semiha Yıldız
Editor in chief: Ekrem Yıldız
Gülistan Korban Rençber
Omer Faruk Baran
Written by Murat Bayram