Local government officials in Turkey have refused to grant Kurdish musicians performance permits due to concerns for safety and to protect “citizens’ lifestyles”, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in response to a parliamentary inquiry.
“These decisions were made not to interfere with lifestyles, but to protect the lifestyles and safety of our citizens,” news website Duvar cited Soylu as saying on Thursday. The majority of the minister’s response consisted of citations of the law.
The inquiry came from main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) MP Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is himself Kurdish. Tanrıkulu asked why internationally renowned musicians such as Pervin Chakar, Aynur Doğan and Mem Ararat had not been allowed to sing in the last six years.
In May this year, an Aynur Doğan concert in the northwestern Turkish province of Kocaeli was cancelled by the local municipality and labelled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), as “inappropriate”.
Kurdish soprano Pervin Chakar was also barred from performing in a university hall in the Kurdish-majority Mardin (Mêrdîn) province, run by an AKP proxy who replaced the elected mayor. Chakar faced the ban due to her repertoire that included songs in Kurdish.
Turkish authorities have cancelled numerous concerts and festivals in recent months, and conservative or nationalist reasons are often openly cited.
Human rights lawyer Tanrıkulu said in a tweet on Thursday that Soylu’s response, “documents how Kurdish has been banned under the AKP government ‘on the grounds of lifestyle’.”