To the esteemed members of the band BaBa ZuLa,
We are most distressed to hear that you will be participating in the Sun Beat Festival in the Golan Heights, which is under Israeli occupation, between 23 and 25 June 2016.
We are calling on you to not participate in this festival.
The festival in question will take place in the Golan Heights, which officially belongs to the Syrian Arab Republic but has been occupied by Israel since 1967 in contravention of international law. The United Nations has overtly drawn attention to this violation in Decision No. 242, demanding Israel’s withdrawal from occupied areas, but Israel continues to maintain its presence in the territory.
Moreover, Israel has brought 22,000 “settlers” to the area, demonstrating that it has no intention of withdrawing. These settlers are a community that is deployed to territories occupied by Israel, tend to bear arms and have the ability of administering pressure and violence against the Palestinian people. In short, taking the stage means supporting the occupation.
On the @BaBaZuLa Twitter account run by Mr. Levent Akman, one of your group’s members, there is a retweet from the years when Istanbul was under occupation during the War of Independence in which the period was correctly defined as the nightmare years. Seeing such a photograph gave us hope that you will most certainly understand the importance of our exhortation.
There would be absolutely no difference between playing at the Sun Beat Festival and playing at an event organized by the occupiers during the occupation of Istanbul.
We read on your Twitter account statements about fighting and struggling for a better world with your music. We are aware of your sensitivity on political issues and we entertain serious hopes that you will take the right course of action and heed our call to not participate in this festival. Yes, music can change a lot. A word said at a concert, or a piece played for the oppressed and the subjugated can provide great strength in the struggle of the wretched of the earth. But not at the Sun Beat Festival, because the Palestinian people, who were chased from their soil 68 years ago, who have lived as refugees for so long and who have been killed with bombs, are calling for a boycott in the cultural field together with their Jewish brothers that support them. Our call is part of this call.
The institutional umbrella for this call is the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI – www.pacbi.org), while our group, BDS Turkey, is also part of this call. PACBI is calling on those that work in the cultural and academic fields, as well as artists, intellectuals and the international public to continue boycotting Israeli cultural and academic institutions until Palestinian lands are freed of the occupiers, Palestinian refugees are accorded the right of return as part of UN Resolution 194 and Palestinians are provided true equality on their own land instead of the present discrimination.
In contrast to this call, you might think that the concert you will give will not be tantamount to support for the occupying regime. But allow us to note that this state, which has illegally occupied Palestinian and Syrian land in contravention of international law, which employs a system that bears remarkable similarities to the racist regime of apartheid South Africa, which has solidified this regime with a wall of shame and which has oppressed the Palestinian people with its army and “civilian” settlers, uses these types of cultural and academic events to conceal its brutal face or, in other terms, washes its hands of any responsibility. As evidence, let us point to the fact that the Israeli Foreign Ministry features news of festivals like Sound Ports on its website (http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/IsraelExperience/Culture/Pages/Celebrating-musical-connections-between-Tel-Aviv-and-Istanbul-March-2016.aspx). If you play on occupied territory, the Israeli state will utilize this to present itself as the most progressive, democratic and peaceful society in the region.
And amid the present situation, your appearance in the occupied Golan will carry another meaning. As you are aware, Turkey has recently been following a policy that we have severely criticized; namely, an attempt to “normalize” relations with Zionist Israel. As a prospective result of this normalization, the Israeli occupiers will transfer natural gas stolen from the Palestinians through Turkey. In other words, Turkey will be an accomplice to the theft of Palestinian natural gas. Cultural relations between Turkey and Israel are being pursued in an effort to soften this process of “normalization” and make it appear appealing to people. Festivals like Sound Ports and Sun Beat are part of a project to make Israel appear “cuter” to the Turkish public. Playing at this concert will mean participating in the cultural aspect of a project that is being pursued by the Turkish government in collaboration with the Zionists.
As BDS Turkey, we invite you to join Roger Waters, Elvis Costello and Santana as artists that have refused to bring “entertainment” to apartheid Israel, to be the voice of the Palestinians and opposition Jews, to steer clear of efforts to absolve Israel of its crimes and, ultimately, to avoid taking the stage in the occupied Golan Heights as part of the Sun Beat Festival.
05 June 2016