Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) has highlighted a worrying trend of restrictions on Kurdish cultural and artistic expression in Turkey, presenting a detailed briefing to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The report reveals a systematic effort to marginalise Kurdish cultural activities, highlighting a significant number of bans imposed on such events since 2019.

Restrictions on cultural and artistic expression in Turkey reflect a broader political agenda aimed at marginalising the Kurdish social sphere, effectively normalising the arbitrary banning of Kurdish cultural activities, according to a briefing presented by the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.Since 2019, at least 28 Kurdish cultural events have been reportedly banned across 16 cities in Turkey, highlighting a worrying trend of restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. The report covers a range of cultural gatherings, including 18 concerts, eight theatre performances, a stand-up comedy show and a literary talk, illustrating the broad impact on Kurdish cultural expression.

The restrictions have continued into the current year, with the authorities already banning at least two concerts and plays in Kurdish in 2024 without providing any justification for these actions, including notable cases such as the ‘Qral u Travis‘, an adaptation of American playwright Sam Bobrick’s political comedy ‘Travis Pine (A Man of the People)’, and a concert by Metin-Kemal Kahraman.

The MLSA’s briefing to the Committee of Ministers shed light on the right to assembly and demonstration in Turkey. Using a procedural tool known as a 9.2 notification, the MLSA communicated its concerns about ongoing violations of freedom of expression in Turkey directly to the Committee of Ministers, which oversees the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

Through these communications, the MLSA highlighted the arbitrary nature of the bans on Kurdish cultural events and called on the Committee to request disaggregated data from Turkey on these bans. In particular, the MLSA urged a review of the Provincial Administration Law, which currently serves as the legal basis for such bans, and recommended measures to hold officials accountable for these arbitrary actions.