A country where concerts are banned

A country where concerts are banned

You can understand if a country has genuine freedom or not from several things.

Art ranks at the top of the list.

No matter how political, provocative and dissented it is, and, actually, precisely because of that, art deserves unlimited freedom.

Because freedom in art is not just about the artists’ ability to freely express themselves.

Art is, at the same time, about people’s access to art and their place in cultural life. Millions of people who cannot express themselves for this or that reason can communicate by singing a song.

Therefore it is a plain lie to say that there is democracy in a country where there is no freedom in art.

Artists all over the world are trapped between political, religious cultural and economic interests according to United Nations’ “The Right to Artistic Freedom of expression” report, published in 2013. Artists are murdered, attacked, and jailed. There is ample censorship.

Turkey’s track record is not brilliant in this sense.

While a large majority is affected by these situations, the band, Grup Yorum is among the ones that suffer tremendously.

When you ask Grup Yorum, which celebrated in their 30th year in 2015, “How did this these decades pass?” they say, “Just like Turkey. We lived all the pains and joys of the country these past 30 years.”

There is no period when their members have not been detained. Aside from the pain it causes for a music group, this is input that shows the governing mentality of this country.

“This voice will never be silenced” slogan comes from these circumstances.

Grup Yorum celebrated their 25 years in 2010 with 55,000 people in the İnönü football stadium. They had one million spectators at their latest “Independent Turkey” concerts.

Indeed, the group we are talking about is a political group. Is there anything that is not political in life including art?

As Theresa Bayer said, “Artists cannot avoid being political. They are the birds in the coal mines. If we give up singing, that is a signal that oppressive times are nearby.”

Grup Yorum spends “efforts to enable people to be less affected from the policies of the ruling elites.” They say, “It is a mission to defend the oppressed.”

“We should influence art and artists rather than the bourgeoisie.” Millions are filled with hope and can connect with others filled with anger. 

While the new generation is slipping away into some direction, they find ways to say, “Wait a minute; we are going to tell you something too” as the natural duty of revolutionary artists.

No matter if you like them or not, you listen to them or you don’t, Group Yorum is one of this country’s 30-year-old values. No matter what, all progressive and sensitive citizens should endorse their voice and wish for this voice to live on. 

They wanted to celebrate their 30th anniversary in huge stadiums with tens of thousands of spectators. They applied for concert arenas in İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Adana and Elazığ. First, officials dragged their feet. Mails were sent back and forth.

In the end, they got negative answers.

The doors of stadiums were closed to them. Then they were obliged to give concerts in city squares. Their concerts in Ankara and İstanbul were banned.*

What kind of a miserable attitude is this?

Some people are afraid of folk songs!

*The ban by the Istanbul Governor's Office for Grup Yorum's Istanbul concert was reversed by a court decision after the article was written.