Disident Turkish Musician, İbrahim Gökçek, Ends His Death Fast After 323 Days; Gökçek’s Calls for Support

Cover from one of the musical collaborative Grup Yorum’s albums. Gökçek is a member of the Group.

“There have been so many days that we shared the same stages, platforms with you, our intellectual and artist friends. With those we couldn’t share the same stage, we had the honor of making art for a more fair and livable world. We have also experienced the oppression of the dominant powers who are fed by people’s remaining ignorant and unorganized . . . ” excerpt from İbrahim Gökçek’s letter of April 30.



We join with PEN America and other organizations that support free speech and freedom of artistic expression in our relief to learn that Turkish musician İbrahim Gökçek, a member of the music collective Grup Yorum, suspended his hunger strike as of Wednesday. Mr.Gökçek is receiving medical treatment. This news comes a day after it was announced that his health had reached a crisis point. İbrahim Gökçek started his hunger strike 323 days ago to protest his imprisonment and that of eight other band members in 2019.

Gökçek decided to suspend his hunger strike after Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and a group of lawmakers vouched for Grup Yorum and declared they would fight for the release of the imprisoned band members. Gökçek had turned his hunger strike into a “death fast”—intending to pursue the strike until his own death—in January. Released February 24 because of his health condition, he and fellow group member Helin Bölek were hospitalized against their wishes on March 11. Helin Bölek died April 3. Weeks later, on April 24, Mustafa Koçak, not a member of the band but also unjustly imprisoned, died after a 297-day hunger strike. Gökçek had continued his hunger strike, calling for the release of all band members, a fair trial, the right to hold concerts again, and the cessation of raids on their cultural center.

“We are relieved to hear İbrahim Gökçek’s decision to break his death fast. But he and other Grup Yorum members should not have to resort to a hunger strike in the first place to be able to share their music, and the Turkish authorities’ grievous attempts to silence their voices is abominable,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “Grup Yorum members have continued to experience repression and harassment at the hands of the Turkish government for over three decades, including arrest, reports of abuse against detained members, banned concerts, and even the detention of their audience members. Their struggle is not over yet. Band members, including Gökçek’s wife Sultan, remain imprisoned, and the government still has not allowed the band to hold a concert. We condemn these ongoing attacks on free expression by the Turkish government, both against Grup Yorum members as well as any artist, writer, or activist who dares to speak out against injustice. Artists should be allowed to live and work without fear, and they should not have to deprive themselves of their life and wellbeing in order to do so.”

In an open letter Mr. Gökçek calls for the release of all members of Grup Yorum, decries the “lies and demagoguery” about the Group, and calls for support from other artists and intellectuals for his demands and that of all Grup Yorum.

English translation of Bella Ciao, an Italian folk song

RELATED:

This post was complied courtesy of PEN America, Amazon, Wikipedia, Infoshri, YouTube, and various news reports. 

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them.


Jamie Dedes:

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Almost Time, a poem . . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

Photograph courtesy of Davide Cantelli, Unsplash

“Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.” Ludwig van Beethoven



Looking back and waving good-bye to
Those East Coast blue velvet nights,
The Jersey Palisades, the clear wind
Singing its way through fall foliage as
Long-lost big sis Teresa and me drive to
I don’t remember where but with the
Child’s clear sight radiant visions came
Of early residents cooking over campfire
Warming themselves in caves and tents,
Smiling at the same stars shining light on

All those giant trees, dendrochronology!
Mountains that never bow down, and
Roads that offer hard walks and unclear
Boundaries, prehistoric hand stencils
Make the eyes smile, the mind wonder
And wander on West Coast hikes, and
Those roosters fleeing my driving
Lessons in Maynard, Iowa, Professor
Dad-in-Law coaching, hard to get this
Short dark Brooklyn girl, whose speech

Odd and religion odder still, she found the
Air in San Francisco different from that in
Manhattan, the preponderance of cars,
The values struggling with the received
Ambitions and material concerns when
She’d rather be home with the baby, the
Toddler, the youth, the young adult, the
Man grown, see the dazzle in his eyes and
Hear the soul in his laughter, the simple joy in
Midnight snacks and Creature Features, in

Books, theatre, movies, the CitySon Philospher
Walked along Crown Beach, his love of nature,
Of critters and his willing get-away to Crab Cove
With all its secrets, the man he is now gets the
Poetry and the dreams and life’s subtilities . . .
Oh, yes! Waving goodbye with gratitude and with
Sadness too, for the father largely unknow, the
Mother silent, abused and abusive, the grandmother
Who shut the door on us, the grandfather who
Escaped to So Cal, now all gathering round

To begin another adventure with another
Theme and they seem benign floating in
On my dreams, whispering in my ear, calling
My name, almost time to come home, dear . . .

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Wednesday Writing Prompt

If you were looking death in the face, what would you remember with joy? Who would you think of fondly? What would you remember sadly? Tells us in your own way through your own poem/s and . . .

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted on theme in the comments section here will be published in next Tuesday’s collection. Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published. If you are new to The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, be sure to include a link to your website, blog, and/or Amazon page to be published along with your poem. Thank you!

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Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


Jamie Dedes:

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton