Nine artistes of Brazilian death metal bands Krisiun and Nervochaos were detained at Dhaka airport for several hours since early Tuesday, forcing organisers to cancel a concert they were scheduled to perform at the TCB auditorium in the capital later that day.
According to one of the event organisers Raptor, they had taken all necessary permissions from the cultural affairs ministry, the National Board of Revenue and the Special Branch (SB) of police way in advance and the band members had also got their visas to perform at the “Metal Morgue” concert.
Soon after the Brazilian musicians arrived at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 1:05am from Indonesia on a Malaysia Airlines flight, the immigration police detained them. They were allowed to leave the airport for a city hotel around 11:30am upon interference from the cultural affairs ministry and the Brazil embassy in Dhaka, according to Raptor and the mission.
Sources said the immigration police seized their passports and asked them to have some snacks at the lounge, but they did not leave until they were handed over their passports several hours later.
The Daily Star tried to contact the special superintendent of the Airport Immigration Police making repeated phone calls and sending SMS, but he neither received the calls nor replied to the text messages.
The news of cancelling the music event and detention of the Brazilian musicians triggered huge uproar in the social media where people slammed the authorities concerned for not allowing the artistes without any reason.
“They were detained by the Immigration Police at the international airport for several hours without any explanation,” Julio Cesar Silva, Charge d'Affaires (CDA) of the Embassy of Brazil in Dhaka, told The Daily Star yesterday.
“As soon as I was aware of the their situation, I immediately contacted the immigration police and Special Branch and they were very helpful and released the musicians since the visas issued to them by the Embassy of Bangladesh in Brazil were correct,” he added.
The musicians left for Japan yesterday where they will continue their Asian Tour that also includes South Korea.
Saimum Hasan Nahian of Raptor said the SB on May 8 told them to postpone the concert, saying it could not take place on May 9, without giving any explanation. The police also asked the organisers to reschedule the event for another date. However, by that time the two bands had already started their journey from Indonesia to Dhaka.
"When they arrived at the airport at 1:00am on May 9, the immigration officers told them that the concert had been cancelled and asked them to go back. They were held at the airport and their passports were seized," said Nahian.
“Since it was 1:00am at that time we had to wait for offices to open the next morning. Then we went to the cultural affairs ministry and explained the situation. The ministry instructed the airport immigration to allow the band members to enter Bangladesh,” he added.
He further said the news of cancelling the music event also broke on several international websites of the heavy metal community where a lot of false information was presented.
Information like “they were arrested” and “held on blasphemy charges” were spread, which were not true, he said. The next few concerts of the band were also cancelled, Nahian informed.
On the harassment of the musicians, Bangladesh singer-composer Bappa Mazumder told The Daily Star: “This incident is a shame to us as a nation.”
He said it had happened before when a famous band came to Dhaka but was not allowed to perform.
“If we invite artistes to perform in our country and they have the right permissions and access, then we have no right to insult them like this. Not just as a musician but as a citizen I think this is deeply insulting for Bangladesh,” he observed.
This would create a very negative image of Bangladesh among foreign artistes and Bappa said he had already seen Bangladesh being portrayed in bad light in the international media. Foreign artistes will now think twice, maybe thrice, before touring Bangladesh again, he added.
Speaking anonymously, a police official said the musicians arrived in tourist visas and had the permission of the cultural affairs ministry to perform in Bangladesh. But they did not take any permission for holding the concert from the police which they must require for security of the event.
Rafiuddin Khan of Raptor, however, said they had informed the SB of the event earlier and the officials had also visited them for verification.
He admitted that the musicians came on tourist visas.
In its official Facebook page, Krisiun said, “We are hereby to manifest our big appreciation and respect for the Metalheads in Bangladesh, We know it's not their fault the show got cancelled here today. We are not against any religion, political view, or have any prejudice against anyone, it's not the matter here...
“We came to Bangladesh to make a concert and unfortunately the authorities decided to cancel, it's not the promoter's fault, it's nobody's fault, it's local authorities decision to shut the show down, the Metalheads are great here in Bangladesh the concert was sold out, We deeply thank all you guys here for the enormous support, We will be back one day! Respect, together we are strong, Metal never dies!”
Earlier, the band posted a status on its Facebook page: “We had a very unpleasant experience, where we were victims of a great misunderstanding and experienced more than 10 hours of pure prejudice and misinformation.”
Krisiun, formed in 1990 in Brazil, is considered one of the most eminent “extreme death metal” bands in the world due to their fast musical tempo and violent lyrics. Nervochaos was founded in 1996 and they are also very well known among extreme metal fans across the world.
Both the bands have released a number of albums (11 and seven respectively) and have toured across the world with the biggest heavy metal bands of the world.