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POLICE stole the dead body of Grup Yorum bass player Ibrahim Gockek in Istanbul today as they attacked his funeral procession with tear gas, detaining scores of people including his father.
They stormed the cemevi — an Alevi religious and cultural building — in the city’s Gazi district, firing rubber bullets. Grup Yorum members Eren Erdem and Dilan Poyraz were detained to stop them from entering.
In a sickening operation police smashed the windows, firing teargas into the building, before taking Mr Gokcek’s body from the centre where it had been laid overnight as people paid their respects to the musician.
Mr Gokcek’s father, Ahmet Gokcek, was detained inside the building along with lawyers from the progressive People’s Law Bureau.
Grup Yorum supporters condemned the police action saying: “How disgusting, how helpless do you need to be to kidnap a body?
“Police attacked a religious place of worship, threw gas bombs and broke doors. Using hundreds of armed officers, armed vehicles, riot squads to kidnap a 28kg body. You can see how scared they are even of our dead.”
Mr Gokcek died on Thursday just days after ending a hunger strike which had lasted almost a year. He claimed a “political victory” and insisted the resistance would continue as the band pressed for its demands to be met.
He is the third person to die in the last two months during the hunger-strike campaign .
Grup Yorum singer Helin Bolek died at the beginning of April after 288 days without food. Mustafa Kocak passed away after 297 days of hunger strike for the right to a fair trial.
All had been accused of terrorism and links to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C) — a proscribed organisation in Turkey.
Alevi organisations were joined by the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) at the Istanbul cemevi where they issued a statement condemning the police actions.
Gazi Cemevi president Hıdır Karadaş said that as Alevi organisations they would continue to defend democracy.
“You have prevented the funeral today, but you will not be able to prevent the love in our hearts,” he said, insisting that one day justice would be served.
Democratic Alevi Associations (DAD) Eyup branch co-chair Imam Balsever said the Alevi people had been persecuted throughout their history.
“Those who struggle for democracy in the name of freedom will not give up their struggle,” he said, adding: “We will not forget the brutality and persecution experienced here today, nor should our grandchildren.”
HDP MP Musa Piroglu urged people to stand shoulder to shoulder against the attacks of the government.
Authorities later released Mr Gokcek’s body, allowing him to be laid to rest in a service in Kayseri, central Anatolia.
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