Austria/Turkey: Concert cancelled, song banned related to referendum vote

As Turkey gears up for a constitutional referendum on 16 April 2017, steps have been taken at home and abroad to influence voters that have also affected art and artists.

In the south eastern province of Şırnak, the local government banned song ‘Bejin Na’ (Say No), the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) official referendum campaign song promoting a “no” vote, as authorities deemed the song incited people to “hatred and hostility”, reported CNN Turk on 30 March 2017.

The song was composed by Kurdish singer Şeyda Perinçek and has been widely used by Kurdish politicians in their campaign to vote against the referendum, reported Turkey Purge on 2 April 2017.

Concert cancelled abroad
Meanwhile in Austria, venue Olympic Hall in the western city of Innsbruck, capitol of Tyrol state, cancelled a concert by Turkish musicians Osman Öztunc and Gökhan Tekin scheduled for 18 March 2017 due to its “political” nature, reported Le Monde on 16 March 2017.

Premier of Tyrol state Guenther Platter said the musicians “clearly belong to the Turkish nationalist and far-right scene and are close to the Grey Wolves [the radical wing of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP)]”.

Tensions have been high between Europe and Turkey over the vote as overseas election campaigning is illegal under Turkish law, though many political parties have ignored the law and have tried to campaign in countries that have high Turkish populations, such as Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, which have cancelled or withdrawn permits for events considered to be campaign-related.

Potentially more power for president
Critics of the constitutional referendum say that, if voted through, too much power will be extended to current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will then be able to appoint and dismiss government ministers and potentially hold power until 2029, among other new powers.

If the referendum is voted through, the situation for freedom of expression in Turkey, which has already gone from bad to worse, will continue to spiral downward as evidenced by Erdoğan’s notoriously thin skin leading to numerous insult cases against artists and others, as well as the clampdown on oppositional voices after the attempted coup against him in July 2016 leading to the literal silencing and imprisoning of tens of thousands of academics, activists, artists, journalists, politicians and others.

» Read Freemuse’s analysis about Turkey’s track record of silencing artistic freedom in 2016 here

‘Bejin Na’ (Say No) translated lyrics

For the hope of the children, say “No”
Against fragmentation , say “No”
For a democratic nation, say “No”
Women, youth, the elder, all say “No”

No to a single flag
No to a single nation
No to a single language

For the revenge of Women, say “No”
For bright days, say “No”
For the promise we made to our cause, say “No”
It doesn’t work alone, say all together “No”

No to a single flag
No to a single nation
No to a single language

For thousand of years, dreams, say “No”
For the peace of all people, say “No”
Against oppression and violence, say “No”
Spread the word, all together , say “No”

No to a single flag
No to a single nation
No to a single language

» Watch the video for ‘Bejin Na’ (Say No) here

Photo: HDP unveiling of “No” campaign poster/Mahmut Bozarslan (VOA) under Wikicommons license


» Turkish Minute – 2 April 2017
HDP’s Tasdemir released after detention

» Turkey Purge – 2 April 2017
Turkish court bans pro-Kurdish HDP’s referendum campaign billboards

» CNN Turk – 30 March 2017
Sirnak governor explains why ‘Bejn Na’ was banned

» Le Monde – 16 March 2017
Cancellation of a Turkish “political” concert in Austria

» The Local – 16 March 2017
Austrian venue cancels ‘political’ Turkish music concert

» Deutsche Welle – 13 February 2017
As repression deepens, Turkish artists and intellectuals fear the worst

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