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Pink Floyd's Roger Waters declared 'persona non grata' in Poland

Africanews logo Africanews 29/09/2022 Joshua Askew

Roger Waters has joined a long list of musicians that have been banned by countries or declared persona non grata.

The Polish city of Kraków has declared the Pink Floyd co-founder_persona non grata_ due to his controversial views on Russia’s war in Ukraine, whichled to a cancellation of his concerts in the Polish city earlier this week

Yesterday (Wednesday 28 September), the city council unanimously adopted a resolution “on recognising people supporting the Kremlin regime as persona non grata in Kraków”, reports the Polish Press Agency (PAP). Waters was the only person mentioned by name in the document.

“Bearing in mind the criminal attack by Russia on Ukraine, as well as the coming to light of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers, the councillors express indignation at the theses and statements made by Mr Roger Waters related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” reads the resolution.

It also notes that, as a partner city of Lviv and Kyiv in Ukraine, Kraków “has a special duty to take a stance against the promotion of disinformation defaming the Ukrainian nation”.

"We don't want people in Kraków who take a stand for Russia in war information and support or repeat Putin's propaganda," said Kraków city councillor Michal Drewnicki. 

He added that the council's decision to declare Waters persona non grata was unanimous, though not legally binding.  

The English musician got into hot water after writing an open letter earlier this month, in which he called on the West to stop arming Ukraine and urged Zelenskyy to put an end to the "deadly war." 

He also accused the Ukrainian President of tolerating "extreme nationalism" - echoing a largely unsubstantiated line of Russia's that its invasion was needed to remove the threat posed by an extremist government in Kyiv.  

Two of Waters's concerts in Kraków scheduled to take place in 2023 were cancelled last Saturday, with the city councillor Lukasz Wantuch saying: "Let him sing in Moscow".

You're not welcome

Waters joins a long list of musicians who have been banned from countries or places. Each recent case is different, as doors are slammed shut for a wide variety of reasons. 

Akon - remember him? In 2010, the Senegalese-American R&B star was banned from Sri Lanka over his 'Sexy Chick' music video, showing a raunchy pool party - packed with scantily clad women - underneath a Buddha statue. 

The video sparked violent protests by Sri Lankan Buddhists in Colombo, the country's capital, leading to an apology from Akon. 

"[I] am a spiritual man, so I can understand why they are offended," he said. "But violence is never the answer and I am disheartened to hear about what happened in Sri Lanka."

As for British singer Amy Winehouse, she was banned from entering the US in 2007, as a result of her arrest in Norway for drug possession. She was denied a visa to enter America and missed the Grammy Awards. Winehouse ended up singing live by satellite link instead. 

Then there's Katy Perry, who was "banned indefinitely" from China in 2015.

The problem? She wore a Taiwanese flag at a concert and donned a bright green sequined dress emblazoned with sunflowers - a symbol of Taiwan's independence movement. 

Chinese officials prevented the pop singer from attending a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai two years later, where she was rumoured to be performing, by revoking her visa. 

Taiwan is a hotly disputed issue. China views the island as part of its territory, though Taiwan sees itself as sovereign.

Artists such as Maroon 5, Selena Gomez and Björk have also had run-ins with the Chinese authorities for supporting or engaging with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan people's foremost spiritual leader.

Katy Perry embroiled in Taiwanese political controversy Getty Images © Provided by Africanews Katy Perry embroiled in Taiwanese political controversy Getty Images

Other stars have been banned for criminal reasons, including R&B singer Chris Brown.

In 2015, Brown was not allowed to tour Australia because of his criminal conviction for assaulting pop star Rihanna. 

Then Minister for Women Michaelia Cash said she had recommended that Brown be refused a visa on character grounds.

"People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you: 'You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia,'" she told reporters at the time. 

"That's my gal"

There have also been a few near-bans, with one recent revelation standing out... 

In a 2022 interview, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Junior, aka Snoop Dogg, claimed an intervention from on high (no pun intended) meant he narrowly avoided being barred from the UK in the 90s, while he was fighting a murder case for which he was ultimately acquitted. 

And who was his mysterious saviour? 

None other than the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

“The Queen, n***a. The Queen said, ‘This man has done nothing in our country. He can come,’” Snoop Dogg explained. “The Queen, n***a, bow down. When the Queen speak, bow down. That’s Harry and Williams’ grandmother, you dig? You think you think they weren’t there saying, ‘Grandma, please let him in, grandma. He’s OK. We love his music.’ ‘You know Harry, I’ll let him in for you. He’s not so bad after all and he’s quite cute.’ … The Queen, that’s my gal.”

The West Coast rapper previously said the Queen supported his stay in the UK after Princes William and Harry praised his music. 

This remains unconfirmed by the Palace, possibly explaining why we didn't hear about this side of Her Majesty's legacy this month.

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