Şivan Perwer’s visit to Canada

perwer_1A black Hummer is cruising down Highway 427 in Toronto, Canada.  Suddenly, in a dramatic armed takedown earlier this week, a half dozen Ontario Provincial Police cruisers surrounded the vehicle and order its occupants out.

Şivan Perwer, Kurdish singer and icon, and three friends were in the Hummer returning to Toronto from Niagra Falls.  The other occupants of the vehicle were Riza Eileik, 73, who was driving at the time, musician Neg Medeine in the back and Iraqi-born cameraman Akrum Hidou in the passenger seat.

All four were taken from the vehicle at gunpoint, pinned to the ground, handcuffed, and pushed into OPP cruisers.

Another motorist had called police after seeing what he thought was a gun through the Hummer’s tinted window.  It was one of the crew’s long camera lenses.perwer_2

During the takedown, while trying to explain who they were, Perwer said the officers yelled at them to stop speaking and said ‘I will shoot … I will kill you now.’

For Perwer, who travels the world singing about peace, the incident was more than just an innocent mistake.

“I’m really in shock still. Still I have pain in my arm,” he said. “It hurt our honour. It hurt a lot,” says Perwer, who is living in exile in Germany from his native Turkey because of lyrics to his songs. “It was scary stuff. It was terrible. Why? Why?”

Perwer has recorded more than 30 records and has performed alongside Peter Gabriel, Sting, Paul Simon, Tom Jones, and Gipsy Kings.

perwer_3Canadian police in Toronto have apologised to the internationally known Kurdish singer for mistaking him and his entourage for armed terrorists.

“As for the people in the vehicle, I certainly understand how they must feel and hope they understand the difficulties and dangers that go with policing,” said OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.

The incident was filmed and can be viewed on YouTube here.


Warmington, Joe. Kurdish superstar gets rude welcome to Canada.  Toronto Sun, 18 August 2009.

Kurdish music star mistaken for terrorist, UPI.com, 18 August 2009.

Doolittle, Robyn.  Armed Takedown Shocks Singer.  The Star, 19 August 2009.

Huber, Jordan. Kurdish music star may sue OPP after dramatic highway arrest.  National Post, 18 August 2009.