One of longest-running rock festivals in Türkiye banned ‘to protect public safety’

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The sub-governor of Burhaniye, Balıkesir, has banned the Zeytinli Rock Festival, which was due to take place between August 17-21, a document revealed yesterday (August 10) has shown.

Security, traffic and environmental problems that arose during the festival in the previous years were among the reasons for the decision, Sub-governor İlyas Memiş said in the written response to the organizers’ application.

“Considering intense complaints and grumbling by our citizens, [the festival] has not been deemed appropriate for public safety and health, public peace, and environmental protection,” said the document dated August 5.

The organizing company, Milyonfest, has yet to make a statement about the issue.

About 70 musicians and bands were going to perform at the festival, which has been held in the northwestern province of Balıkesir since 2005.

Reactions from musicians

Several musicians, including those who were going to perform at the festival, criticized the ban on Twitter.

“What is tried to be prevented is not a festival, but the freedom and right to choice of the youth of the country,” wrote Moğollar, a pioneering rock band in Türkiye whose career spans over 50 years.

“The youth of this country deserve everything their peers in the world have,” wrote Mor ve Ötesi, a well-known rock band.

Gökhan Özoğuz wrote, “The Zeytinli rock Festival is the festival of the young people who unite against all elements that disrupt public peace, deception and unfairness.”

“Prostitution and drugs”

Days before the ban, the Balıkesir branch of the Community for Spreading Wisdom (İlim Yayma Cemiyeti), one of the largest conservative NGOs in Türkiye, released a statement condemning the festival, where it claimed “prostitution, rape and harassment took place in public.”

Homes and businesses “are damaged and looted” and “every kind of drug is used” at the festival, the group claimed.

“We don’t accept these festivas, where every kind of inappropriate situation is offered to our youth,” it said.

The government and municipalities have banned several concerts the past couple of years for similar reasons, as well as introducing a live music ban after midnight as part of the coronavirus measures, which has remained in place despite the lifting of all other restrictions.

Another music festival was banned in May in Eskişehir, a city with a high student population.

Also, spring festivals in many universities have been canceled or turned into “alcohol-free” events.


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