Joint statement calls on Turkish gov’t to end bans on concerts, cultural events

Ninety entities including unions, political parties and civil society organizations have issued a joint statement in response to the increased pressure on musicians and celebrities in Turkey, which is often seen in the form of bans on festivals and concerts, Turkish Minute reported.

In the statement the group referred to a declaration titled “Let’s put an end to the mistakes made at festivals” that was released by the Balıkesir Civil Society Platform, which includes the pro-gov’t Turkey Youth Foundation (TÜGVA), the Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (MÜSİAD), the Society for the Dissemination of Science (İlim Yayma Cemiyeti) and pro-government education union Eğitim Bir-Sen.

The platform claims that festivals lead young people towards immoral relationships, alcohol consumption, drug use and defiance of authority and urges the banning of “unrestrained celebrations and festivities” in addition to the separation of male and female sections at events and the prevention of alcohol and illegal substance use and immoral behavior.

Following the declaration, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)-run Balıkesir Municipality canceled a concert by famous singer Hande Yener, scheduled to take place at 9.30 p.m. on July 9 as part of a festival in Burhaniye, without providing any specific reason.

Unions, political parties and civil society organizations emphasized in their counter statement that the bans on such activities target secular lifestyles and freedoms, making a call for collective resistance against the intervention by government institutions.

“As citizens with diverse beliefs and views … we are engaged in various struggles to live in a secular and democratic country. … However, the government is forcefully imposing a repressive, patriarchal and antidemocratic system, aiming to construct a new societal structure,” the group said.

They emphasized that the AKP government has been violating basic rights and freedoms by imposing restrictions on individuals who organize press statements, demonstrations and marches as well as on writers, musicians, journalists and lawyers. They added that these individuals also face arbitrary detentions, arrests and penalties.

It was further said in the statement that the organizations would stand up for their fundamental rights and freedoms and will not give up on their universal values and way of life where men and women coexist.

Many accuse President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling party of trying to force their Islamic values on the nation by banning social activities throughout the country.

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