MKM concert in Istanbul banned by Turkish authorities

The Mesopotamia Cultural Centre (MKM) was banned by Turkish authorities from giving a concert on the occasion of the 31st founding anniversary.

In order to counter a "danger to public safety and order", Istanbul’s Küçükçekmece district governorate has banned a concert planned for this Saturday evening by the Mesopotamia Cultural Centre (MKM). The reason given by the authorities in their ban order is "serious concerns" about the event with the allegation that the concert could open up "room for criminal offences", as it was assumed that it would be accompanied by "propaganda for a terrorist organisation" and "provocative actions". ”In order to avert this as far as possible and to exclude the risk that peace, security and welfare in our district will be affected as well as to prevent crime and protect the rights and freedoms of our citizen", the concert had to be prohibited,” argued the district governorate.

The district governorate’s actions drew criticism from the MKM board. "They do not tolerate Kurdish and, in their racist delusion, rededicate the mother tongue of a people of 40 million into a security threat," the organisation said in a statement. Preparations for the concert had been going on for months - on the occasion of the 31st anniversary of the founding of the MKM. It was to take place in the sold-out Performing Arts Centre YKB under the slogan "Em ê Bêjin! The title was formulated as a declaration of war in view of past bans on Kurdish cultural events, including the MKM anniversary concert in 2021. The administrative authority, which has summarily banned all events in public and closed spaces in the entire district for today, seems to have taken this to mean the same thing.

The MKM was unimpressed by the injunction and announced its intention to hold the anniversary concert despite the ban. "We will not be deterred by the oppressors," the board of the cultural centre declared in a public press statement in front of the Performing Arts Centre in Küçükçekmece on Saturday. The programme includes both regionally known musicians and bands, but also international greats: Şahiya Stranan, Erdoğan Emir, Mehmet Atlı and the Rastak Ensemble from Iran. Instead of the YBK, the founding anniversary was to be celebrated at the premises of the district branch of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), it was said. Several dozen members of the MKM were among those who gathered in front of the building in protest against the ban on the event.  

A large police force tried to stop the protest and broke up the meeting violently. At least 25 people were taken into custody and the artists are now in the Vatan police headquarters in the Fatih district, which is notorious for being a torture centre. "The government's hostility towards Kurds, their language and their culture is omnipresent. Even a press statement is not tolerated by these rulers. But let it be said: they may well issue bans, but they cannot suppress our voice, nor will they succeed in stopping our dances," said HDP deputy Musa Piroğlu, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a work accident at a construction site, as the only person left in a police encirclement. Meanwhile, those detained face charges of violating the Turkish Law of Assembly.