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Osman Kavala and the Snails: watch, enjoy, share

The world’s first lockdown opera, ten minutes of delight against oppression

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
23 June 2020, 4.21am

It is not often that we can all do something when a great injustice takes place in another country. 

Everywhere millions of people are joining their voices and employing their creativity to oppose violence, injustice, and discrimination in their own countries. 

The #MeToo movement, Extinction Rebellion, the mobilisations for the liberty of Hong Kong, against the threat of Muslim genocide in India, and now for Black Lives Matter, together are changing the world. 

Not in a way that will be easy or quick and the resistance will be powerful. But the epoch of the populist ‘iron men’ has begun to meet its match.

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In one country there is an injustice that symbolises the contest between hateful, polarising, elected despotism and truth and justice. The jailing of Osman Kavala in Turkey.

Kavala is Turkey's best-known supporter of culture. A philanthropist, human rights champion and bridge-builder to minority communities he has spent his whole life working for equality and respect for repressed peoples. He stands for the democratic and tolerant beliefs of probably now a majority of the population.

For this he is approaching 1000 days in Turkey’s highest security prison on trumped-up charges on the orders of President Erdoğan. 

Now there is a simple way for all of us to protest against his fate and demand his freedom. 

Watch, enjoy and share 'Osman and the Snails'. 

It’s the first ever lockdown opera, ten minutes long, an international cooperation made when everyone was in isolation from COVID-19. 

I won’t spoil it for you by telling the story. The music is composed by Nigel Osborne. The production is by Opera Circus. The singers are world class. 

I’ve been friends with Osman since the 1980s. Two weeks after he was  jailed, in October 2017, I wrote in outrage about his innocence, sure that he would be released before now. 

But there is one problem in calling for Osman’s freedom. He is an organiser who works tirelessly for others. This means he personifies democratic, civil society in Turkey. But he is not a singer, or writer, or painter. The wider world cannot experience his voice, vision and example. 

Now we all can. By watching 'Osman and the Snails'.

And every one of us who watches the opera becomes a grain of sand in the movement of support for his release. 

Watch it. It is musically a joy. Then please share it and help free Osman Kavala. 

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