04/07/2020, 13.06
TURKEY
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Remembering Helin Bölek, songwriter of freedom, who died in a hunger strike

by NAT da Polis

The young woman, a member of the Grup Yorum musical band, went on a hunger strike with fellow band members to denounce Erdoğan's repression. Grup Yorum’s concerts have been banned for three years. Seven members are in jail. The so-called democratic world remains silent.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Turkish singer-songwriter Helin Bölek, a founding member of the Grup Yorum musical band, died last Friday, 3 April, at the age of 28 after going 288 days without food.

The young woman began the hunger strike to protest the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who banned her from singing.

Young and talented, she wanted to sing and express the desperate desire to live in freedom. For this reason, she was highly appreciated by young people in Turkey. Her appeal to young people worried Erdoğan's regime; so her band was not allowed to perform.

For at least two years, police raided the group’s headquarters, the Idil Cultural Centre in Okmeydani (Istanbul), dozens of times, breaking musical instruments and arresting at least 30 people. Seven members of the band are still in prison.

Because of this, Helin chose an extreme form of protest and resistance against Erdoğan's modern sultanate, staging a hunger strike along with other group members almost a year ago.

In today's Turkey, Helin Bölek’s death is the consequence of ruthless state repression, which includes the oppression and stifling of all dissenting voices.

It is absurd that a 28-year-old woman has to starve to death just because she dared to express herself artistically. It is equally absurd that the rest of the so-called democratic world has not reacted.

Grup Yorum’s demands remain the same: an end to police raids against the Idil Cultural Centre, the removal of group members’ names from the list of suspects, lifting the three-year ban on Grup Yorum concerts, and the release of its jailed members.

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