Seven arrested during protest for musicians on death fast

Seven people were arrested during a protest in an Istanbul hospital against the forced treatment of two members of the left-wing music group Group Yorum on death fast.

One of the most famous leftist political music bands in Turkey, Group Yorum has been under constant pressures and harassment of the government, especially after the abortive military coup in July 2016. Band members have been facing detentions, arrests, and bans due to their political ideas. Some members have been on hunger strike for 261 days to protest these unlawful pressures. Two of them did turn their hunger strikes into death fast in January.

Seven people have been arrested in Istanbul during a protest action against the forced treatment of two members of the band. Musicians Helin Dölek and Ibrahim Gökcek have been on hunger strike for 261 days against the repression the band is facing from the Turkish state. In the night of Wednesday, both were forcibly taken by Turkish police forces from their home to the hospital in Ümraniye. There they are now threatened with forced feeding, which can have fatal consequences.

Helin Dölek and Ibrahim Gökcek were arrested about a year ago during a house search at the Istanbul Idil Cultural Centre. They are accused of membership in the banned Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C). Bölek was released in November 2019 and Gökcek on February 24. Both musicians want to continue their hunger strike until the reprisals against the popular left music formation are ended.


Group Yorum (“interpretation” in Turkish) was established against the backdrop of the repressive political climate after the 1980 military coup. It has produced twenty-three albums and one film since 1985. Many concerts and albums of the band were banned, while several band members have been arrested and even tortured. Despite such oppression, the band is still very popular both at home and abroad.

Over the last three years, the police have raided at least eight times the İdil Cultural Center in İstanbul, where the band carries out its activities. During the raids, musical instruments of the band were either broken or taken away, music books damaged. According to a statement by the band, the police arrested a total of 30 people in these raids. Band members initiated a hunger strike in June 2019 in protest of these attacks. The band demands the release of its arrested members, removal of arrest warrants against some other members, termination of incessant police raids into the İdil Cultural Center, and an end to arbitrary bans on their concerts and cultural events.