Call For Solidarity

Evvel Temmuz Culture and Arts Festival is Back!

“Ma Rıhna Nehna Hon!”

“We Are Here, We Haven’t Left / We Are Not Leaving!”

Evvel Temmuz Culture and Arts Festival will take place in Hatay, the southernmost province of Turkiye, between 7 – 23 July 2023.

The festival committee and the volunteers from Samandağ, Arsuz, Defne and Serinyol, the four districts of Hatay, where the festival events will be held, CALL FOR SOLIDARITY. Please follow and support us on our Patreon account (or write to us for other transfer details). You can find information on Social Media and other platforms as well.

This year’s motto of the festival is “Gülmek, bir halk gülebiliyorsa gülmektir”, meaning «Laughing is meaningful, only if people can laugh».

Our Festival will host a variety of events including talks, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, film shows, special events for children, youth and women. The events of the festival will be multicultural and multilingual, representing common cultures and most commonly spoken languages in our region, mainly Turkish and Arabic. It is solely organized by volunteerism and in-kind and cash contribution of people but not sponsored by any companies or institutions.

With the upcoming Evvel Temmuz Culture and Art Festival, we invite everyone back who had to migrate from Hatay due to the earthquake and we encourage them to be a “subject” in rebuilding our homeland. Our invitation message is as follows:

We are ready for the Evvel Temmuz Culture and Art Festival and we invite you all to help us create the festival together!

“Laughing is meaningful, if people can laugh.” We have a festival in Hatay between 7-23 July 2023, prepare the tents, dishes, boil the hrisi (traditional meal), distil the boğma rakı (an alcoholic drink made of distilled grapes or other fruits), we have a festival in Hatay!

On 6 February 2023, Hatay devastated by the earthquakes. We lost our relatives and friends. Our houses collapsed or damaged heavily. But we never despaired, instead we held on to each other. Our survival depended solely on the solidarity built between people. We put our tents next to each other, we slept side by side, we shared our food and our pain, we healed our wounds together. Now, months after the earthquake, we keep resisting against those who see even tents as luxury for us, those who want to take advantage of the dire situation and displace us from our home.

Since the first day of the earthquake, we have been repeating one sentence, written on the walls and tents. While struggling to survive in unhealthy tent cities and greenhouses, that sentence empowered us. It became our rallying cry while protesting against the discriminatory profit policies:  

“Ma rıhna nehna hon!”

 “We are here, we are not leaving!”

Let those who try to destroy us and our culture hear clearly: In order to revive our culture, we will organize our Evvel Temmuz Culture and Arts Festival again. Last year, we held our festival for 17 days in various districts, neighborhoods and villages of Hatay. This year, our festival once again will spread from village to village, from neighborhood to neighborhood.

The celebration of Evvel Temmuz Festival dates back to the ancient times of Arab Alevis. It was an agricultural festival where our ancestors harvest, share and celebrate together. Although capitalism destroyed the sharing economy, some core values of the culture are still alive. Evvel Temmuz is the symbol of these values, that are solidarity and cultural resistance. The aim of our festival is to integrate these still relevant values with contemporary socialist values. As the previous attempt to ban our festival in 1980 coup was resisted by local people, the poor attempts to halt our festival last year was successfully resisted. This year, we will meet again in halays (folk dance performed mostly by Turks, Arabs, and Kurds in Turkiye).

Although the devastation here is beyond words, we will overcome this disaster together. We will embrace our culture, our muvvels (a traditional and popular Arabic genre of vocal music, wikipedia) and ataabas (is a traditional Arabic musical form sung at weddings, festivals, and other occasions, wikipedia), our halays that reinforce the spirit of togetherness, our collective tears and our laughter that will bring the oppressors to their knees. In the neighborhoods and villages of Samandağ, Defne, Serinyol and Arsuz, we will remember those we have lost, we will grow each other’s hope with culture and arts events, we will and can only heal together. And we will make those pay for making a massacre and economic profit out of a natural disaster and deepening the pain through rentier economy.