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Turkish state accused of murder after death of hunger-striking Grup Yorum musician

TURKEY’S ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was accused of murder today following the death of revolutionary leftist musician Helin Bolek after 288 days on hunger strike.

Ms Bolek, a member of the outlawed band Grup Yorum, had refused medical intervention after turning her hunger strike into a “death fast” earlier this year, along with fellow band member Ibrahim Gokcek.

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

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

Grup Yorum is one of Turkey’s best-known bands but has been a constant target for the state since it was formed at an Istanbul university in 1985.

Its concerts have been banned, musical equipment destroyed and its members declared terrorists, linked to the banned Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C).

Hundreds of thousands would attend outdoor performances to hear the band play what have been described as “the songs of the nation,” their revolutionary music catching the mood of Turkish and Kurdish progressives.

But the Turkish state escalated its oppression, subjecting a cultural centre used by Grup Yorum to raids and arresting band members on spurious terror-related charges.

Six members of the band have been placed on the Turkish state’s notorious “grey list” as wanted terrorists, with a 300,000 Turkish lira bounty placed on their heads.

The band and its supporters are demanding an end to police raids, removal of Grup Yorum members from the grey list, an end to the ban on its concerts, the dropping of charges and the release of all Grup Yorum members.

Last month the Turkish interior ministry said it would listen to the musicians’ demands if they ended their fasts.

But Grup Yorum spokeswoman Seher Adıguzel insisted the hunger strikes would continue: "We don't trust the ministry. We will not end the death fast until our demands are met,” she said.

The death of Ms Bolek has strengthened the resolve of Grup Yorum who, despite mourning the death of the singer, vowed to continue the struggle against “AKP fascism.”

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.”

HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar also paid tribute to Ms Bolek and called on the government to listen to Grup Yorum’s demands.

They condemned the AKP’s “reckless attitude towards human life” and called for action to prevent the deaths of Ms Bolek’s fellow hunger strikers, Ibrahim Gokcek and Mustafa Kocak.

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