A member of Turkish band Grup Yorum, famous for political songwriting, has called for international support ahead of tomorrow’s court hearing in Turkey as he edges perilously closer to death after 240 days on hunger strike.
In a letter sent to lawyers, Ibrahim Gokcek insisted: “We are going to have justice with our bare hands” as he faces trial on trumped-up terrorism charges.
He thanked the “intellectuals, artists, journalists, doctors, engineers” and others for their solidarity with the jailed musicians and insisted he would attend tomorrow’s hearing if his health permitted.
Mr Gokcek has been behind bars since he and a number of band members were detained in March 2019 following raids on an Istanbul cultural centre the previous week.
He turned his indefinite hunger strike in protest at the group’s detention into a “death fast” on January 3, insisting he would not take “one step back” until their demands are met.
Formed at an Istanbul university in 1985, Grup Yorum is one of Turkey’s best-known bands, playing to massive audiences across the country.
Their revolutionary music has made them a continual target for the Turkish state and they have been subjected to raids, detentions and the destruction of their equipment.
At least 30 of the band’s core members have been detained over the last two years and their concerts and music have been banned.
Six members of Grup Yorum have been placed on the Turkish state’s notorious “grey list” as wanted terrorists with a 300,000 Turkish lira bounty on their heads.
Grup Yorum say that their resistance is not just for themselves but “for all oppressed peoples of the world.”
They are demanding an end to police raids, removal of Grup Yorum members from the Turkish state wanted list, an end to the ban on Grup Yorum concerts, the dropping of charges and the release of all band members.
Mr Gokeck’s weight has plummeted to around 46kg and he described a burning sensation on his feet and sleeplessness at night. But he said he is trying to keep his health under control as much as possible.
He has been joined on the death fast by band member Helin Bolek.
“We are going through a difficult time, yet full of resistance,” he said, adding: “I am on the death fast and I want something more than health: I want justice and freedom!”
Ahead of tomorrow’s court hearing in Istanbul, he said: “The only thing that complies with the law today is to meet our demands.
“We are not begging for rights, we are saying that we will take justice with our bare hands.”
This is a video explaining the current situation of #GrupYorum, who’s members have been on a hunger strike since May 2019. Now, 2 members, Ibrahim Gokcek and Helin Bolek are on a death fast!