Turkey expands crackdown on folk music group famous for protest songs: report

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Ankara’s crackdown on Grup Yorum, a folklore collective made up of rotating members, continues to expand even after two of its members died following hunger strikes to protest the Turkish government’s treatment of the government. group, Turkish Minute reported.

Known for its left-wing stance and songs about violations of human rights and freedoms in Turkey, Grup Yorum has been banned from performing since 2016, and some of its members have been jailed. Turkish authorities have accused members of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party / Front (DHKP-C), a Marxist militant group considered a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The latest police raid on the cultural center of Ä°dil, where Grup Yorum members operate, resulted in the detention of 93 out of 120 people for whom warrants had been issued, including lawyers and choir singers from the group in more of its soloists and musicians, as part of a broader crackdown in October.

The center had also been raided the day before, when members of the group Barış Yüksel, Eren Erdem and Özgürcan Elbiz were arrested along with background singers İdil Kayıkçı, Cenk Turan, Emrah Uludağ, Metin Kaleli and Yaşar Coşkun Karadağ.

Three other members of the Yorum Group, Dilan Ekin, Emel YeÅŸilırmak and Tuğçe Tayyar, are currently serving prison sentences for “belonging to a terrorist organization”.

Two other members of the folk group, singer Helin Bölek and bassist İbrahim Gökçek, died earlier this year after a hunger strike to protest the government crackdown on the group.

Bölek, 28, died in April, on the 288th day of her hunger strike, while Gökçek died in May after fasting for 323 days.

Hunger strikers in Turkey traditionally refuse food but consume fluids and vitamins to prolong their protests.

Bölek and Gökçek began their hunger strike while in prison in 2019 to pressure the AKP government to lift the ban and release the detained group members. They continued the protest after their release in November, demanding that Grup Yorum be allowed to resume concerts, that the other jailed band members be released and that the charges against the band be dropped.

Despite the deaths of Bölek and Gökçek, the Turkish government has still not lifted the ban on the group’s performances.

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