When bars in Istanbul reopened in early June, Turkish singer Seref Erdeniz believed he would finally be back in service after months of scarcity that forced him to sell his guitar to pay his bills.
So when the government announced that musical performances and concerts would remain banned as part of the measures to combat the pandemic, hope gave way to anger.
Selling his instrument "
was a very painful moment
," Erdeniz, a 34-year-old pop singer told AFP.
My guitar accompanied me for years on stage.
songs on it,
”he said, his voice broken.
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Like him, many artists have been upset by the government's decision to maintain the ban on concerts, seeing no health justification as restaurants and bars, where many singers and musicians normally perform, have reopened. .
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While it recorded more than 60,000 cases of coronavirus per day, Turkey last month imposed strict containment to halt this progression before the opening of the high tourist season.
As a result, the number of daily infections was divided by ten in one month, according to official figures, and restaurants, cafes and bars were able to reopen on June 1.
The musicians therefore have the impression of being unfairly excluded from the cover.
To express his dissatisfaction, the famous composer Hakan Altun filmed himself cutting the strings of his guitar, a gesture imitated by several musicians.
Singer Tarkan, a world star in the 1990s, accused the government of "
disrespecting art and artists
Without income and almost without state support, Turkish musicians are among the categories that have suffered the most from the pandemic.
According to several media, a hundred of them have committed suicide since March 2020.
To collect help for their less fortunate colleagues, famous artists sold their instruments at auction. “
There are some heart-
breaking stories,” says Vedat Sakman, a 71-year-old artist who owns a café with a stage usually performed by musicians in Kadiköy, on the Asian side of Istanbul. "
Some musicians ask the town hall to spread the payment of their water bill of one hundred Turkish pounds (about ten euros)
", he blows.
The last time the Turkish music scene went through such serious difficulties was after the 1980 military coup, Sakman said.
At that time, we played behind closed doors from midnight to 5:00 am,
” he recalls.
But today, it's much worse: there is nothing.
Banning performances in bars and restaurants "
", judges Professor Bülent Ertugrul, member of the Turkish Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.
If we justify this measure by the risk of contagion, then we should close
" these establishments, he adds.
Musicians even suspect Mr. Erdogan of waging a "
" against them
to satisfy his conservative voters as his popularity drops. The musicians “
symbolize the“ secular and hedonistic ”way of life that the government condemns
,” underlines Dogan Gürpinar, historian at Istanbul Technical University. Faced with this situation, the main opposition party CHP (social democrat), which controls the town hall, launched in May a program called "Istanbul is a scene" which allows artists to sing - while being paid - in parks. and in public places. It is thanks to this initiative that the singer Ozge Metin was able to perform in a square in Kadiköy, under a radiant sun and in front of a dancing crowd. "
It had been fifteen months since I had been able to sing,
”Ms. Metin told AFP.
The cafes and restaurants are open, but we are not allowed to perform there.
It leaves you wondering,
Faced with the incomprehension and the anger of his young colleagues, the veteran Sakman calls for patience.
We have survived coups and tougher days
,” he says.
We have always found a solution and you will do it too