Turkish judge suspended, faces investigation over support for left-wing Grup Yorum member

Ayşe Sarısu Pehlivan - Photo: Birgun

Turkey’s Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) has suspended Judge Ayşe Sarısu Pehlivan and launched investigation into her over her social media posts in support of leftist Grup Yorum member İbrahim Gökçek, who passed away on May 7 after a lengthy hunger strike.

“Folk songs do not harm,” Judge Pehlivan tweeted on May 3 in support of Gökçek’s protest.

“I felt pain as a human being and posted something [on social media],” Judge Pehlivan told the T24 news website on Wednesday. “No one has the right to interfere in people’s right to life,” she added.

The İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s office has also initiated a criminal investigation into Judge Pehlivan’s remarks.

Pehlivan has been removed from the bench for a period of three months while the HSK moves forward with an investigation into her.

İbrahim Gökçek had been protesting the prosecution of the members of Grup Yorum and concert bans imposed on it. On April 3 another member, Helin Bölek, of the band died on the 288th day of her hunger strike.

Gökçek and Bölek went on a hunger strike while in prison to protest the prosecution of the group.

Both were later released but did not survive the long hunger strike.

The Grup Yorum has released more than 20 albums since 1987. But it has not been allowed to perform since 2016 as it has always been targeted by Turkish authorities for their radical left-wing tendencies and their alleged ties to DHKP-C, an outlawed armed Marxist-Leninist group.

The “suspension” was officially announced to Judge Pehlivan.

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