Conductor Cem Mansur wrote a letter to his friend Osman Kavala who is now in prison. The letter by Mansur was published in the newspaper Cumhuriyet on December 10, 2017. Below is the translation of the original text:

Dear Osman Kavala, my friend, my neighbor,

I’m writing to you now from our neighborhood, where we had a gathering for your birthday only a few weeks ago.

As we were rejoicing with the possible release of Murat Çelikkan (which we can finally believe), how could we know that this time they will make you pay the price of doing the right and the good? These “Rights” and “Goods” have been extensively written about after you were taken into custody. We found out that this “Goodliness” came as a surprise even to those of us who know you closely. As a result we got angrier by the fact that the borders around our sense of justice were being challenged day by day.

I realized that the word I use the most while talking about you is conscience. Seriously you worked as the one man “Conscience Party” of Turkey, in this land that is devoid of love and tolerance. (I don’t want to be unfair to your wonderful colleagues at Anadolu Kültür, but I’m sure they know what I mean).

It was 2010. While we were missing an important opportunity at least for music under the framework of “European Capital of Culture” (the so-called “all this work has been for nothing.” syndrome), unlike most of the musicians, you recognized how polyphonic music can be a great tool for peace. When the Armenia/Turkey Youth Symphony was founded, I think we were able to show people how the only remedy for our sorrows was dancing, making music and singing together. The fact that prior to the concert in Büyükada (we didn’t know then, but apparently we were starting to show with our concert what a nest of malice this place is), you were helping us place the chairs in the arena and were hesitant to go on the stage to say a few words and get some credit, is an important lesson to many people.

Despite all its pleasantness “football diplomacy” was concerning football at the end of the day; there were winners and losers. In music diplomacy, where everyone is a winner, during the “reception crisis” of 2012 Berlin Festival of Music (for those of you who don’t know: there were hesitations from both sides regarding the Armenian artists coming to the Turkish Embassy) those who supported the official opinion have failed and resolution was only possible with your careful approach that abstained to hurt any of the sides.

You know how we say nothing is left unpunished (I wonder why our country always makes us repeat this), we have now really seen the punishment for the good. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they have included our concerts into your case file.

We should acknowledge the fact that the majority who has been silent towards what has been done in Sur and Şırnak are also the ones who enabled this arrest. Then maybe we can proceed towards transforming into a country where doing the right and the good is no longer such a dangerous act.  

If we had ten more Osman Kavalas in the country, it would be impossible to target only one of them. 

You know how sometimes people who don’t know us well mistake us for brothers and ask you “How are the concerts going?” Beyond the similarity of our hairstyles, I always thought we had a certain brotherhood (See now they will frame this as masonry!). I know this sounds like an ad for a housing project, but it has always been a “privilege” to know you.

Come back as soon as you can so that we can continue to be impertinent and mischievous and organize things such as peace concerts. No good comes from those who obey.

With love, 

Cem Mansur

10 December 2017