Freemuse and P24 devastated about reports of Grup Yorum’s member Helin Bölek’s death

3 April 2020
Helin singing to the microphone
Image: Grup Yorum’s singer Helin Bölek / Grup Yorum Solidarity Committee on Twitter


3 April: Grup Yorum’s singer Helin Bölek has died on the 288th day of her hunger strike, reported Grup Yorum.

“Freemuse is devastated by the outcome of this hunger strike. We strongly urge the Turkish government to take responsibility in providing better protection to artists and reconsider its policy and practices on freedom of artistic expression including accepting demands of Grup Yorum members,” said Dr Srirak Plipat Freemuse Executive Director.

Due to Grup Yorum’s political songs, the Turkish government deemed the members as terrorists and jailed several group members on the charges of “membership of a terrorist organization.”

According to the Grup Yorum Solidarity Committee, Grup Yorum’s guitarist, İbrahim Gökçek and 5 other group members have been placed on the “most wanted terrorists” Turkish list. There is a reward of 300,000 Turkish lira (46,000 euros) set on each of them. Gökçek has been jailed for almost 2 years based on a “secret witness” statement and without any indictment or court hearing.

Musician Bahar Kurt suspended her hunger strike while guitarist İbrahim Gökçek is now on a death fast.

According to the Grup Yorum Solidarity Committee, the members on hunger strike, have stated the following demands:

  • Grup Yorum’s members be released, and the cases be dropped.
  • police raids be ended in the İdil Cultural Centre [in Okmeydanı, İstanbul], that was raided for 10 times in 2 years
  • the removal of the wanted ‘terrorist lists’ of the Ministry of Interior upon Grup Yorum’s members and sympathizers.
  • the removal of the ban on concerts and venues to Grup Yorum concerts.

Freemuse and Susma Platformu (Speak Up Platform) / P24 Platform for Independent Journalism continue to call for the Turkish authorities to release detained musicians,  end illegitimate restrictions of freedom of artistic expression of the group and accepting the demands of striking artists.

We urge you now more than ever to take actions calling on the Turkish authority to end human rights violations and accept the demand of Grup Yorum by signing the petition.

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