Three orga­ni­za­tions – Istan­bul Med­ical Doc­tors, the Artists” Assem­bly and Artists’ Ini­tia­tive – had already raised the alarm last Jan­u­ary 20, to attract atten­tion to the hunger strike of mem­bers of the musi­cal group Grup Yorum.

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Singer Helin Bölek and gui­tarist İbrahim Gökçek have been on hunger strike since May 16 2019. Bahar Kurt and Barış Yük­sel end­ed their strike after 190 days and now sup­port their friends. Bahar and Helin were freed end of 2019. Helin has con­tin­ued her hunger strike on the out­side. İbrahim Gökçek is still in jail. He was impris­onned on the basis of a “secret’ wit­ness’ state­ments. He is at risk of a life­time sen­tence and has been wait­ing for 2 years that his file be com­plet­ed so that he can know at last what charges are held against him, and pre­pare his defense. The date of a first heraing has not yet been announced.

Accused of terrorism

The mem­bers of Grup Yorum are accused of belong­ing to a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion, in occur­rence the Peo­ple’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Lib­er­a­tion Par­ty – Front (DHKP‑C). Six mem­bers of the group, İnan Altın, Sel­ma Altın, Ali Aracı, İbrahim Gökçek, Emel Yeşilır­mak, İhs­an Cibelik, appear on the “grey list” estab­lished by the Turk­ish Min­istry of the Inte­ri­or, as “want­ed ter­ror­ists”. Turkey also offers inform­ers a bonus of 300 000 Turk­ish lira (equiv­a­lent to 46 thou­sand €) per “head”.

(Col­or cod­ed clas­si­fi­ca­tion of bonus­es for informers)

Persecution by the Turkish State

The per­se­cu­tion to which the group has been and con­tin­ues to be sub­ject­ed could not be clear­er. Annu­al con­certs by the group “Inde­pen­dent Turkey” have been for­bid­den since 2015. The group man­aged to give one con­cert via inter­net on July 1st 2018. Their premis­es – the İdil Cul­tur­al Cen­ter in the Okmey­danı neighb­hor­hood in Istan­bul, was raid­ed eight times by the police in the past two years. Vio­lent raids by the police on the cen­tre occurred in Octo­ber and Novem­ber 2016, in May and Sep­tem­ber 2017 and in Octo­ber and Novem­ber 2018. Dur­ing these raids, their musi­cal instru­ments were smashed or seized, their music books were also dam­aged. Accord­ing to the group’s state­ment, a total of 30 peo­ple were arrest­ed dur­ing these raids.

On July 14 2018, Sel­ma Altın and İnan Altın who had escaped incar­cer­a­tion decid­ed to pur­sue their strug­gle in exile, in France.

grup yorum

İbrahim Gökçek et Helin Bölek.….

Toward death

The hunger strik­ers demand: the end to the raids and search­es tar­get­ing the cul­tur­al cen­ter. The lift­ing of the pro­hi­bi­tion on Grup Yorum con­certs. Removal of Grup Yorum mem­bers from the lists of want­ed indi­vid­u­als. And the with­draw­al of the charges filed against group members…

We could have pro­vid­ed some news, offered a few lines from the let­ter Barış Yük­sel sent to the news­pa­per Birgün. But the let­ter is “cen­sored” to such a degree that the only thing vis­i­ble is the begin­ning which reads “How are you? I am Barış Yük­sel, mem­ber of Grup Yorum”

Today Helin Bölek has been on hunger strike for 331 days, and İbrahim Gökçek for 235 days, and both are in more than crit­i­cal con­di­tion… They need sup­port from pub­lic opin­ion. As Helin said in a recent reportage: “Truth­ful­ly, the out­come will rest on the shoul­ders of those who love us, lis­ten to us and who try to do some­thing for us. I invite you all to mul­ti­ply the voices.”

February 14, 2020: 

This 14th of Feb­ru­ary, we were sup­posed to cel­e­brate this day for lovers, and today is our wed­ding anniver­sary. I’m being judged with my wife. They sep­a­rat­ed our cas­es, and she could­n’t come here today. I could­n’t see her. If we were out­side, we might have drunk, as chil­dren of the peo­ple, a glass of ‘turşu suyu’ (tra­di­tion­al veg­etable sausage drink), but they took away even that pos­si­bil­i­ty. The four years of our five-year mar­riage were spent in pris­ons. Damn this system!”.

Six mem­bers of Grup Yorum, includ­ing İbrahim Gökçek who uttered these sen­tences, were today in court, after months of incar­cer­a­tion, for this first hear­ing. The court released them alone. Barış Yük­sel is under judi­cial super­vi­sion, with week­ly sig­na­tures at the police sta­tion. It has been decid­ed to renew the impris­on­ment of all the oth­er defen­dants, includ­ing İbrahim Gökçek, on hunger strike, and in a more than crit­i­cal state. The court also request­ed that İbrahim Gökçek be exam­ined by the health com­mis­sion in order to obtain a report, and to decide whether he should remain in prison or not. The tri­al was export­ed to the court in Silivri. The next hear­ings are announced for 26 and 27 Feb­ru­ary 2020.

February 24, 2020:

Ibrahim Gökçek, who has been on hunger strike for 252 days, was released today, fol­low­ing a med­ical report attest­ing to his crit­i­cal con­di­tion… Helin Bölek, who is free, has also been on strike for 249 days.

April 3, 2020:

Helin Bölek died today. In the face of a fascis­tic State her resis­tance was in vain…

As a tribute to Grup Yorum…

Bel­la Ciao” live in Istan­bul in 2010…

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.