Peace and friendship messages were conveyed through songs in Istanbul, the meeting point of Europe and Asia. The voice of the Anatolian people, Kardeş Türküler, world-renowned Armenian percussionist Arto Tunçboyacıyan, and Palestinian musician and activist Reem Kelani shared the same stage Tuesday at Istanbul's Turkcell Kuruçeşme Arena.
The artists were accompanied on stage by more than 70 dancers. Tunçboyacıyan, Kelani and members of Kardeş Türküler spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
’Diaspora smells like mothballs’
"I am from Anatolia; I take my heart everywhere I go. Leaving Anatolia means leaving myself," said Tunçboyacıyan, a U.S. citizen, adding that he is an Armenian but that humanity - not identity - was important to him.
Criticizing the current situation with the diaspora, Tunçboyacıyan said, "The diaspora smells like mothballs; it doesn’t refresh itself." He said that if he were given the mission, he would be able to solve the current problem between Turks and Armenians in two weeks.
"I need two cameras, an objective observer and representatives of both societies. The program would be broadcast live. It would continue for two weeks, and discussions would be held for 24 hours before the people of both countries, because we need to learn how to speak first. As two publics, we play the game of word-of-mouth very well," said Tunçboyacıyan about his project.
Tunçboyacıyan, who formed an orchestra named the Armenian Navy Band in 1998 in Armenia, where there is no sea, is traveling between Turkey, the United States and Armenia.
’I stayed away from both Turkish, Armenian societies’
Tunçboyacıyan’s brother, Onno Tunç, was one of the producers of legendary work in Turkish pop music. He died in a plane accident in 1996 when the private plane he was piloting crashed in bad weather on a mountain near Selimiye village of Armutlu, Yalova, on his journey from Bursa to Istanbul.
Tunçboyacıyan said that though his brother wanted to stay in Turkey, he, not necessarily voluntarily, had left Turkey and moved to the United States 29 years ago.
"I enlisted in the army in 1978. I served for two years, and it was a very difficult process. My commander used to say to us that he doesn’t want to hear Armenian and Greek names," he said. "This perception really hurt me. Onno was more moderate, but I was not. I could not accept it and left the country. I lived my life missing my hometown; I was a foreigner everywhere I went."
He said that when he first moved to the United States, he stayed away from the places of Turkish and Armenian societies. He explained the reason, saying: "Both sides are living on an axis of race and religion. My origin is Armenian, I am proud of it, but I am a human and an individual first of all. My identity does not shape my life, but my life shapes my identity."
’I am here to express my existence’
Palestinian musician and activist Kelani, who lives in Manchester, England, expressed her happiness with being in Istanbul and sharing the same stage with Kardeş Türküler and Tunçboyacıyan. Mentioning the conflict between Israel and Palestine, Kelani said: "It is not possible to accept what has been done to the people of Palestine. The rights of my people are violated. As a Palestinian, I am here to prove my existence to the world, not to behave like a victim."
Speaking on behalf of Kardeş Türküler, members Ülker Uncu and Vedat Yıldırım said: "This concert is one that is dedicated to peace and brotherhood between publics. The world is a whole for us. We don’t believe in borders."