“All Helin wanted was to sing her songs freely” – Turkish state accused of murder

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was accused of murder by Grup Yorum, following the death of revolutionary leftist musician Helin Bolek after 288 days on hunger strike.

“All Helin wanted to do was to sing her songs freely. AKP fascism is responsible for her death,” Grup Yorum said in a statement.

Bolek and a fellow band member, Ibrahim Gokcek, had embarked on the hunger strike while in prison to press the government to lift the ban and free detained band members. On March 11, Bölek and Gökçek were taken to a hospital without their consent after police raided their house.

The band described Helin Bolek as a martyr, calling for resistance to continue. At least 10 Grup Yorum members are believed to be behind bars.

Thousand of people took to Twitter to share messages of condolences, including Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputies and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, with many criticizing the government and asking whether their demands were so hard to meet that she was left to die.

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Guven, who led a hunger strike by Kurdish political prisoners last year, said: “Let the lights be your companion. We will not forget you.”

Founded in 1985 as a reaction to the 1980 military coup and the subsequent military policies, Grup Yorum is known with its leftist stance and songs about political issues in Turkey. The group has always been vocal about human rights violations and freedoms in the country, prompting authorities to accuse them of being “members of terrorist groups” often. At least 10 Grup Yorum members are believed to be behind bars.

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