Another member of Grup Yorum band dies after hunger strike

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İbrahim Gökçek after being released from prison

Another member of a popular, left-wing folk music group that is banned in Turkey has died after he ended a hunger strike in protest of the government’s crackdown on the band, AP reported on Thursday, citing the group’s statement on Twitter.

Grup Yorum said 41-year-old bass guitarist İbrahim Gökçek died in a hospital in Istanbul. He was put in intensive care after he abandoned his hunger strike two days ago. He had been fasting for 323 days prior to that.

The group’s singer, 28-year-old Helin Bölek, died on April 3, the 288th day of her hunger strike.

Hunger strikers in Turkey traditionally refuse food but consume liquids and take vitamins that prolong their protests.

Grup Yorum, formed in İstanbul in 1985, is known for its protest songs and is composed of rotating band members. It has been prohibited from performing in Turkey since 2016, and authorities have jailed some of its members.

The government accuses Grup Yorum of links to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP/C. The militant group is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Gökçek and Bölek had embarked on the hunger strike while in prison last year to press the government to lift the ban and free detained band members.

They were released in November but continued the protest to demand that Grup Yorum be allowed to resume concerts, that other jailed band members be released and that lawsuits against the group be dropped.

Two Grup Yorum band members, including Gökçek’s wife, remain in prison.

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