Turkey: Persecuted folk band Grup Yorum in centre of attention

24 June 2013

The development in Turkey has given the Istanbul-based folk music band Group Yorum new fame and publicity around the world. On 18 June, Group Yorum signed a statement along with many other Turkish musicians who condemn police violence and what they term as “the government’s abuse of power in Turkey”. Rumors are circulating that the government requires a list from the Ministry of Culture with the names of those musicians and artist who has participated in the protests.


On 23 May 2013, the Istanbul-based folk music band Group Yorum organised a demonstration at Taksim Square in support of three imprisoned members of their group. The demonstration was stopped by police using pepper spray and tear gas, and the rest… well, it is not history yet — but already one month later, the political singers celebrate a ‘PR victory’ over the government in the international media:

“For a long time, Grup Yorum’s revolt was a lonely one. People were afraid to attend Grup Yorum’s concerts. Media didn’t dare to write about the band. But all of a sudden that has changed. Recently Grup Yorum played to some 55,000 fans in Istanbul. They play to rapturous audiences in Gezi. Reflects [saz-player Cihan] Kerkek: ‘Now people have passed their fear threshold’,” wrote Elisabeth Braw in an article in Metro on 17 June 2013 — an article which was translated and published in countries such as the US, Russia, Spain and Italy.

Group Yorum’s song about ‘Taksim Resistance’ – entitled ‘Taksim Direnişi İçin Söylüyor’ which translates ‘Sings for the resistance of Taksim’ – was posted on in numerous copies and has all together been viewed more than 150,000 times during its first couple of weeks.

Several musicians from Grup Yorum are participating in the ongoing demonstrations in Gezi Park, close to Taksim Square in Istanbul, where the musicians are singing songs of Grup Yorum together with activists. Currently, three of the members are held in prison, and according to their own calculations, members and supporters have been sent to jail over 400 times since the band was founded in 1985.

Metro World News – 17 June 2013:
Marxist band celebrated at Taksim vows to forge ahead
By Elisabeth Braw

Same article in Spanish, Italian, and Russian

Tendance Coatesy – 2 June 2013:
Solidarity with Turkish Protests in Brussels, backed by Yorum

CNN Turk – 24 May 2013:
Grup Yorum eylemine gazlı müdahale

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