On World Music Day, a group of musicians from Istanbul’s Mesopotamia Cultural Centre (MKM) gathered on the lively İstiklal Avenue to hold a musical protest against the recent repressive measures taken by Turkish authorities on Kurdish-language arts and music in the form of bans against concerts and plays.
The group of Kurdish musicians sang several songs in Kurdish, including legendary Aram Tigran’s Zîmanê Kurdî (“Kurdish Language”).
“Around the world, people make music and experience music freely,” MKM artist Talat Yeşil said in a speech in Kurdish. “Unfortunately, in these lands home to at least 20 million Kurds, concerts are banned for being in Kurdish. Plays get banned for being in Kurdish.”
Speaking in Turkish, Engin Cengiz, another MKM artist, said the group decided to hold a celebration on World Music Day “so music can be free, in all languages, in all societies”.
“Every society’s language is as good as the mother’s milk for them, it is pristine, it is beautiful. We want freedom for all languages and all music,” he said.
Kurdish-language arts have been facing increasing pressure in recent months, with several high profile concerts and plays facing cancellations from public and private venues throughout May.