provincial governor cancels long-awaited music festival · Global Voices in English


Eskisehir Province. Photo by Seyfi Şeren, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0via Wikimedia Commons.

Just three days before Anadolu Fest, a major music festival that was to be held in Turkey’s Eskisehir province, the local governor’s office announced that all events including peaceful demonstrations, concerts, festivals and demonstrations will be canceled from 10 am to 25 pm. to “guarantee public order and security, prevent crimes, protect rights and freedom and prevent the spread of violence”. While the statement did not specifically mention the music festival, the event takes place on the days mentioned in the statement. In response, a festival organizer, Serdar Can, said that organizers will appeal the announcement in administrative court, adding that the festival has sold around 10,000 tickets. The sudden decision by the local governor led to a public outcry online, with the hashtag #FestivalimeDokunma [Não mexa com meu festival] quickly among the trends from Twitter.

After months of planning, a music festival attended by Yeni Türkü, Deniz Tekin and others would start in Eskişehir on Thursday. But a last-minute decision by the provincial governor banned all events, in an attempt, it seems, to stop the festival.

Anadolu Fest would be the biggest gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic raged in 2020. The four-day event would start on May 12 and would be attended by several famous singers from Turkey. In an isolated statement made by the festival, organizers said they were shocked by the governor’s decision, especially after the festival registered and got the necessary permits:

We condemn this unlawful behavior by depriving thousands of young people from their love of art. Our legal processes regarding the decision started and we will continue to inform you, our valuable participants, about the process.

We condemn this illegal behavior, depriving hundreds of young people of love and art. Our legal proceedings in connection with the decision have begun and we will continue to inform you, our valued participants, about it.

Among those who criticized the decision were members of government opposition parties.

The decision announced today by the Eskisehir government is an interference with the way of life. It’s a different decision, announced to keep you from having fun. It’s another blow to the music industry, which has struggled since the start of the pandemic.

Musicians also demonstrated. Acclaimed pianist Dengin Ceyhan tweeted:

While it is already challenging to listen to our dear artists because of the pandemic and economic crisis, banning a scheduled festival is shameful and unfair to artists, stage crews and music lovers.

During the pandemic, musicians were among those most affected by the lockdowns. According to Statistics of the Union of Presenters and Musicians (Müzik-Sen) of September 2022, at least 100 musicians committed suicide during the pandemic. Many of the million musicians registered in the country are uninsured and therefore could not claim support benefits. And just when the restrictions were lifted, new restrictions dashed any hope of a quick recovery for Turkey’s music industry.

In June 2021, President and Secretary of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Tayyip Erdoğan, said that Turkey would lift the remaining restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic effectively on July 1, 2021. However, from the same date, all music events were supposed to end at midnight. “Excuse me, but no one has the right to disturb anyone at night,” said Erdoğan. The hashtag #Kusurabakiyoruz (We’re not sorry) immediately began trending on Turkish Twitter, with many citizens and musicians expressing their displeasure at the new ban.

In March 2022, despite most restrictions such as wearing a mask outdoors and contact tracing apps when entering public spaces were lifted, the music ban was lifted. continued. Musicians flooded social media with another trending hashtag #MüzikYasağıKalksın [Suspenda o banimento musical]. Prominent musicians and artists shared their concerns arguing that the ban was “ideological” and unrelated to health. In a tweet, musician Gaye Su Akyol he wrote“As there is no reasonable explanation [para manter o banimento musical], let us say: The ban is a totally ideological and reactionist practice and must be stopped urgently”. Others such as musician Edis called the measure “discriminatory”, “With the economy in such a bad shape, I really cannot understand this discrimination against the music and entertainment industry”, tweeted the singer.

Commenting on the festival’s ban, actor Orhan Aydin questioned why the government is banning something that could ease the growing tension in the country:

What does the governor think art and culture are? While the country is at war, why ban a festival that is trying to raise morale, liven up with songs and poetry? The people of Eskisehir must speak out, to whom does the country belong?

Located just a few hours from Istanbul and Ankara, Eskisehir is one of the most popular destinations for University students. The city appeared in the 2019 LonelyPlanet guide, where visitors can find “pedestrian-friendly green spaces, colorful historic districts and a photogenic network of canals.”

The chances of the festival resuming are slim, but not for lack of efforts from music lovers. While event organizers pledged to challenge the ban in court, artists also pledged to help. A popular Turkish rock music singer, Haluk Levent, said he will personally speak with the authorities:

I would also perform at the festival on Thursday. I just learned that the festival was not allowed. I will speak with the local authorities immediately. I wish we didn’t have to talk to the authorities about this situation.

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