The organizers of the Monsoon Madness Music Festival have confirmed that all four of the original international acts on their lineup have pulled out. In an attempt to salvage the festival, the organizers have blamed recent media coverage of Myanmar for the withdrawals and have begun to frame attendance at next week’s festival as an act of patriotism.
“We sincerely regret to inform you that Axwell Λ Ingrosso, Oliver Heldens, Ummet Ozcan, and Far East Movement can no longer perform at Monsoon Madness and will be needing to cancel their trip to Myanmar,” the organizers said in a statement released on Saturday morning.
“We can make the easy choice to cancel this event, but we will NOT be the victim of these exaggerated medias about Myanmar, and we will NOT give up,” the statement went on. “Let’s stand and unite together as a nation!”
The festival’s new patriotic tinge and the lack of explanation from the artists themselves has left many wondering whether the cancellations are related to the crisis in Rakhine State, which most people in Myanmar believe to be a military crackdown against the “terrorist” group ARSA. International media and human rights groups, on the other hand, describe the situation as systematic displacement and abuse of Rohingya civilians.
Coconuts has reached out to the artists, and so far, only received a response from Far East Movement. The American hip hop group told us via Messenger: “Hey unfortunately we were pulled from the concert for safety reasons. Bummer. We were really looking forward to coming out there again…Hope to be out there soon…”
On Saturday night, Monsoon Madness published a statement from Oliver Heldens, which says the DJ’s cancellation was “due to no fault of the festival.”
Many social media users have speculated that the artists withdrew in protest against the Myanmar military’s crackdown on Rohingyas. The festival organizers have played into these speculations by calling on audiences to “prove to everyone all over the world that Myanmar is still a strong and united nation.”
Many have responded to the festival’s nationalist rebranding approvingly, some by publicly criticizing the artists who pulled out.
However, others are still demanding refunds, which the festival’s organizers have promised to give.
The organizers have also refilled their roster with five other international acts: DANNIC, Dyro, MOTi, Stadiumx, and Swanky Tunes. Each of them has hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook.
DANNIC, Dyro, and MOTi have all previously performed in Myanmar.