Nothing stopping release of hunger-striking Turkish rock band members: Lawyer

Dervis Aydın, a lawyer representing Helin Bolek and Bahar Kurt from popular Turkish music band Grup Yorum, has said that there’s nothing preventing the two from being released from prison, Gazete Duvar news portal reported on Monday.

Grup Yorum is a Turkish folk-rock music group known for its music, which incorporated political themes.

Bolek and Kurt, who are currently on hunger strike, are to appear before a judge in Istanbul 35th Heavy Penal Court on Tuesday at 11.00 a.m. local time.

Kurt has been on hunger strike for 97 days while Bolek’s strike reached its 88th day with both of the group’s members being held in pre-trial detention for more than two years over charges that include “membership in a terrorist organization.”

Speaking to Haci Biskin from Gazete Duvar, lawyer Dervis Aydın emphasized that the indictment against the band members is mostly based on statements of open and secret witnesses.

“The statements do not involve any tangible accusation or description of an incident [of a criminal act],” Aydın indicated, arguing that his clients should be released from prison considering their long period of pre-trial detention.

Aydın also elaborated that Kurt has lost a considerable amount of weight due to the hunger strike and from time to time suffers from serious health issues that stem from lassitude and lack of fresh air.

He said the conditions of the Burhaniye T-Type Closed Prison in northwestern Balikesir, where Kurt is currently held, double the common effects of the hunger strike.

The hunger strike being staged by the members of Grup Yorum is aimed at urging the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to meet a list of their demands.

One of the band’s demands is for the jailed group members to be released from prison and all charges dropped.

A total of 11 Grup Yorum members have been arrested since a state of emergency was declared by the government in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt that targeted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in July 2016.

In addition to Bolek and Kurt, Ferhat Kil, Dilan Ekin, Ozgur Gultekin, Meral Hir, and Duygu Yasinoglu are also still behind bars.

The band members are accused by Ankara of having links to the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a militant Marxist group designated as a terrorist organization not only by Turkey but also by the US and the EU.

Six members of the band, Inan Altin, Selma Altin, Ali Araci, Ibrahim Gokcek, Emel Yesilirmak, and Ihsan Cibelik, are on the Turkish government’s wanted terrorist list.

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