Among the thousands jailed in the Spanish and Turkish political repression we report on the case of the rapper Valtonyc , Pablo Hasel and Strawberry in Spain and Ezhel in Turkey
Valtònyc’s support group says they do not know where the rapper is
The Majorcan rapper should enter prison today for three and a half years.
Although the solidarity environment ensures that three weeks ago they do not know anything about it, there are strong rumours of the rapper’s departure to a ‘European country’ and the police have stated that they will seek a Euro Warrant fot his arrest and deportation.
Valtonyc is one of the over 40.000 convicted by neo-fascist Spanish Gag Laws, and 6.217 for Insulting Police
Time has run out for the Mallorcan rapper to voluntarily present himself at a penitentiary center for three and a half years of conviction for the content of his songs.
On Thursday, May 24, the Spanish Minister of Justice, Rafael Català, assured that Justice will dictate a European arrest warrant against Valtònyc, a mesure that has been demanded by the Public Prosecutor of the Spanish National Court at noon. The court is politically controlled by the far right Partido Popular and inherited from the fascist Franco dictatorship which executed tens of thousands of citizens..
Valtonyc Freedom Support Group says that for three weeks now, they do not know anything . At the conference on freedom of expression that was held in the European Parliament, Mulay Embarek of the support group lamented that today “it will be a historic day because it’s the deadline for jailing a person for singing, making art, denouncing social injustices “.
However, since yesterday, several media have echoed the suspicion that the Civil Guard had the possible departure of the rapper to a European country. Valtònyc had been under police monitoring for several days and on several occasions the rapper showed that he felt himself observed.
Yesterday hundreds of people concentrated on Plaça de Sant Jaume in Barcelona in support of Valtònyc and today demonstrations have also been held in Palma (7:30 pm) and in Valencia and in Alicante
The support network that has been set up in Mallorca around Valtònyc is finishing a week full of concerts and performances for freedom of expression (Acallar), in which more than forty bands will be supporting him from all over the world.
The sentence to Josep Voltonyc for three and a half years – dictated by the Spanish National Court and ratified by the Supreme Court – responds to the sum of two convictions, one for insults against the crown and exaltation of terrorism and the other for non-conditional threats to Jorge Campos
Valtònyc and others point to the fact that the number of those convicted for glorifying terrorism or humiliating terrorism victims has quintupled in recent years. There have been 114 convictions, most of them ETA-related, since the group announced its permanent cease-fire in 2011.
In December, 12 members of the group Insurgencia each received two-year terms for glorifying terrorism in a song | YouTube
The lyrics that got Valtònyc into trouble mentioned killing a local politician with a nuclear bomb, hanging the king in a public square and blowing up a bus full of conservative politicians. But Valtònyc is soft spoken and comes across as more of a victim .
Pablo Hasél describes his conviction and sentencing as part of a strategy to crack down on dissent by far-right elements in the Spanish state who never broke with the mindset of the Franco regime, despite four decades of parliamentary democracy.
Spanish rappers (from left) Valtònyc, Pablo Hasél and Elgio | Andreu Dalmau/EPA
Strawberry takes a similar view, claiming his friendship with Pablo Iglesias, leader of the leftist Podemos party, is the cause of his own one-year sentence. Rapper ‘Caesar Strawberry’ gets 1 Year Jail for ”Terrorist Tweets”.
The singer of the group Def Con Dos, César Strawberry, has been condemned by the Supreme Court to 1 year of jail for ‘promoting terrorism’. His most evil crime was a twit which proposed a ‘birthday cake bomb’ present for the corrupt then king Juan Carlos (who was put in power by the dictator Franco).
“With the aim of hurting him, they criminalize me,” he says, pointing out that the majority of those recently convicted for their social media posts or performances are on the left of the political spectrum. He and others have compared Spain’s apparent clampdown with countries where many basic human rights are under threat, such as Turkey and Morocco.
Such drastic views of the Spanish state and its justice system have become increasingly common, particularly in the context of the Catalan crisis. Catalonia’s independence movement frequently portrays Spain as being anchored to its repressive past, with the courts as the government’s weapon of choice in thwarting dissent.
Ezhel , had been arrested for talking about drugs in his lyrics.
The second example was the news that one of Turkey’s biggest and most talented rap artists, Ezhel , had been arrested for talking about drugs in his lyrics. Even by the standards of the Turkish government, the arrest appears to a particularly egregious action by an oppressive regime.
While Ezhel is a talent within the Turkish rap scene younger than artists like Ceza and Sagopa Kajmer, the release of his debut album in 2017 moved rap into the mainstream of Turkish music, with many tracks appearing in charts usually dominated by pop. Despite releasing his album independently, his concerts around Turkey have been sold out, making his success an organic one, without the backing and promotion of a major label.
Ezhel appeals to rebels, the politically dispossessed, the open-minded, progressive Turkish youth who find their lifestyles looked down upon by the conservative, reactionary supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Here is a couple of examples of Ezhel’s lyrics, so you can judge for yourself what a danger to society he is.
This is not Ezhel’s first run in with the authorities. I spoke to him in April at a live event, and he told me he had been repeatedly followed and questioned by police, but he seemed unconcerned. He had his first live performance in Britain just last weekend, as well as recent shows in Berlin, Utrecht, and Zurich.
His English is good, with an endearing American intonation learned from many years of listening to American rap, and he is clearly an intelligent and thoughtful person. If any Turkish hip-hop artist were likely to make it big in other countries, it would be Ezhel.Perhaps something is lost in translation, but it’s rap meant to capture the sensibility of the young and disenfranchised, rather than start a political revolution.
Nevertheless, it certainly represents a fundamental challenge to Erdoğan’s pet project to raise a ‘pious generation’ of Turkish youth through the heavy promotion of religion in schools. This campaign, interestingly, does not seem to be having any effect, as Turks are reportedly becoming more secular .
Before previous Turkish elections, Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) has previously attempted to present itself as more lenient and democratic. But the government no longer attempts to hide its authoritarian tendencies. As the value of the Turkish lira has depreciated in recent months, government officials have cast about for suitable scapegoats to avoid responsibility for their own poor monetary policy decisions.
Turkey has serious problems, both social and economic, and like the unwillingness of the government to engage seriously with high inflation and currency depreciation, the arrest of a popular musician is a distraction from the systemic failures that the Turkish government cannot bear to address. Coming in the run up to an important election that threatens to loosen the AKP’s grip on power, these kind of arbitrary arrests appear like desperate acts.
Like many things in the new Turkey, arresting artists for their art feels like a return to the bad old days of the 1990s, when Ahmet Kaya was hounded out of Turkey for daring to suggest he would sing in Kurdish. Ezhel is not the only artist suffering for their art in the new Turkey. Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan was arrested for painting a picture of the destruction of the southeastern town of Nusaybin in 2017.
Despite the shock among Turkish music fans that the judicial witch-hunt is now extending to the arts, the persecution of Ezhel may yet backfire against Turkey. It is likely to bring him more domestic and international fame, bolster his edgy reputation and instil greater loyalty in his fans. It also makes Turkey look bad, though like the notorious fans of English football club Millwall , the Turkish government increasingly displays an attitude of ‘nobody likes us, we don’t care’.
Ezhel is the kind of artist who makes people think and question accepted narratives. Perhaps this is why the Turkish government sees artists like him as a kind of existential threat to its quest to ‘Make Turkey Great Again’. Thinking outside the box in Turkey these days is increasingly likely to bring you unwanted political problems. While these sideshows carry on, the more serious problem of the weakness of the Turkish economy looms ever larger. It is just this kind of problem that could do with the kind of critical thinking that Erdoğan seems to have purged from his government.
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