Turkey: Grup Yorum members allegedly tortured in custody

27 September 2012

A singer and a violinist with the left-wing band Grup Yorum claim they were tortured in police custody after they were detained during an unauthorized demonstration in İstanbul’s Yenibosna neighborhood.

Grup Yorum vocalist Sema Altın and violinist Ezgi Dilan were taken into custody after they had participated in protests in front of the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) in Yenibosna on 14 September 2012. The protests were organised by the family and friends of İbrahim Çuhadar, a Revolutionary People’s Army Front (DHKC) militant who blew himself up in front of the Sultangazi Police Station on 11 September, killing an officer. The protesters came to Yenibosna to take Çuhadar’s body from the ATK. 27 of them were taken into custody by police.

According to a report by the Turkish daily newspaper Taraf, lawyer Taylan Tanay said police officers at the detention center, with full knowledge of who Sema Altın was, kicked her in the ear, perforating her ear drum, which has led to significant hearing loss in her right ear. It is not clear whether the loss will be permanent. Tanay said there was an ATK report to support the allegation.

Fingers smashed
Violinist Ezgi Dilan Balcı was repeatedly hit on the arms and fingers, and both women were handcuffed during the physical abuse that allegedly took place at the police station.

The newsletter ‘Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin’, published by, reported that Ezgi Dilan’s fingers were smashed and her limbs were injured severely.

“They were kicked repeatedly by several police officers as they were being taken. The abuse continued inside the vehicle that belonged to the riot police. Sema Altın is the singer of Grup Yorum and the police knew this. One of them hit her in the ears repeatedly while she was cuffed, rupturing her ear drum. She can’t hear out of her right ear at all,” their lawyer, Taylan Tanay, was quoted as saying.

Tanay said the purpose of the torture his clients endured was to prevent them from performing their art, which is also their primary source of income. He said the police had terrorised his clients, and that hitting people consistently to the ears was a unique and virtually unheard of act “reserved for Grup Yorum members only.”

Court: house arrest
The case was heard in court on 17 September 2012. Nine of the defendants, Altın and Balcı among them, are under house arrest with the charge of terrorist organisation propaganda. Counselor Oya Aslan said that a house arrest for Grup Yorum members is not different from imprisonment since they cannot attend concerts or recordings.

Today’s Zaman – 18 September 2012:
Grup Yorum members tortured in custody, lawyer claims

The Journal of Turkish Weekly – 19 September 2012:
Alleged Police Torture Against Music Group




Sema Altın (left) and Ezgi Dilan Balcı



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