Helin Bölek, member of Turkish band Grup Yorum, dies on death fast

Helin Bölek, a member of the Turkish leftist band Grup Yorum who has been on a death fast for 288 days, died on April 3.

She had been protesting the persecution of the members of her band.

Members of Grup Yorum have been on a hunger strike demanding the termination of police raids on the İdil Cultural Center, where they had engaged in their musical activities; the delisting of fellow members from the Ministry of Interior’s “wanted list”; the repeal of a ban on their concerts in force for the last three years; and the release of jailed members of the band.

The death of Bölek was announced by Grup Yorum on their social media accounts. “We are calling everybody to the home of resistance to embrace our martyr,” said the band.

The police had previously raided the homes of Bölek and İbrahim Gökçek who were both on a death fast, and took them against their will to a hospital to be subjected to involuntary treatment as well as torture, as revealed by Gökçek’s lawyer, Ezgi Çakır.

Eight members of the group were arrested on November 23, 2016 after a police raid on the İdil Cultural Center and were released on March 1, 2017 pending trial. The culture center was once again raided by İstanbul’s counterterrorism police on May 30, 2017, which led to the detention of nine people. Property and musical instruments were reportedly damaged during the raid and search of the premises.

Two band members, Selma Altın and İnan Altın, later sought asylum in France, in 2018.

Grup Yorum has released 20 albums since 1987 and has always been targeted by Turkish authorities for their radical left-wing leanings and their alleged ties to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), an outlawed armed Marxist-Leninist group.

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