The father of a famous Turkish musician who is the last of three members of his band still alive after going on hunger strike has begged for a ban on his son performing to be lifted before it is too late.
Ahmet Gokcek wants people to support his plea for the Erdogan government to take the name of the band members off the terror watchlist and give them the right to perform their music again.
His son, Ibrahim Gokcek, was a member of the popular folk rock band Grup Yorum who released 23 albums and one film after forming in 1985 before they were alleged to be terrorists.
The band combines local folk music with rock and a left-wing, often satirical, perspective which led to the arrest of five members in 2013 on accusations of being part of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C).
In November 2016, eight members were arrested at a concert they held, but in spring 2017 they were released again.
In 2018, five members were placed on the country’s most wanted list and two of them fled to France to seek asylum while Gokcek was detained on 26th February 2019 and sent to Silivri prison on the 1st March 2019.
In May 2019, several band members began a hunger strike in protest at the treatment the band received from the Turkish Government.
Their demands call on the government to ends its ban on the groups’ concerts and the removal of its members’ names from terror lists.
Gokcek and bandmate Helin Bolek joined the hunger strike in June 2019 and they were released from prison on 4th January when they reportedly turned their hunger strike into a death fast.
In April 2020, Bolek died after 288 days of hunger strike.
Mustafa Kocak, who was imprisoned in July 2019 for being involved in the kidnapping of a public prosecutor despite a lack of evidence, also joined the hunger strike and died on 24th April after 297 days, according to reports.
Gokcek’s father Ahmet told local media that his son was deeply affected by both deaths
Ahmet Gokcek said: “Ibrahim has been on a death fast for 315 days. His situation is critical. He is mentally very strong and has been resisting.
“He can also follow the current events and can talk to us. He was deeply shook up when his friends died, but continues his struggle with resistance.
“He did nothing wrong. They were trying to perform the art of the people. However, the government brought them to this by holding a grudge against them.
“They were put to terror lists for no reason. They wanted to fight for this to be lifted because they were left with no other choice.
“Helin, Mustafa and Ibrahim were not thinking of dying.”
The father added: “Ibrahim wants to live. He wants to sing the songs of the people.
“Allowing someone to perform on stage is as significant as drinking water or breathing. Their demands are as reasonable as that.”
Founded in 1985 as a reaction to the 1980 military coup and the subsequent policies, Grup Yorum are known with their political songs and members have always been vocal about human rights violations and freedoms in the country.
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