A famous Turkish folk musician and activist, who had been on a death fast for 323 days, has died in a hospital on Thursday, two days after quitting his fast.
Ibrahim Gokcek, 39, had been on a hunger strike to protest the concert ban on his band, Grup Yorum, and the imprisonment of several band members.
Grup Yorum announced on Tuesday that Gokcek paused the death fast after his health deteriorated, and he was hospitalized.
It said they had achieved a “political victory” and would apply to the Istanbul governor’s office to request permission to hold a concert.
“The whole world has heard about our resistance. We hope that our concert application will reach a positive conclusion,” read the group’s statement.
The band said later on Thursday in a statement that the singer had died.
Gokcek has become the third person to die in Turkey due to a hunger strike since early April.
His death follows that of another band member Helin Bolek on April 3 and a supporter Mustafa Kocak on April 24.
His family took Gokcek’s body to a cemevi in Istanbul, a house of worship associated with the Alevi religious minority, as supporters chanted slogans.
The Turkish authorities did not release Gokcek’s wife, Sultan, who is currently in prison.
The pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) held Erdogan’s government responsible for the singer’s death in a statement. It blamed the ruling party for ignoring the demands of the hunger strikers.
"Yarına sesinin yankısı kalır" | Grup Yorum üyesi #İbrahimGökçek'in cenazesi için Gazi Cemevi'nde toplanan kalabalık İbrahim'i hep bir ağızdan söyledikleri "Uğurlama" şarkısıyla uğurladı. pic.twitter.com/C04pR5Lym0
— Hergele Postası (@HergelePostasi) May 7, 2020
Turkey accuses the members of Grup Yorum of being part of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), an armed Marxist-Leninist group, responsible for carrying out numerous attacks on government officials and foreign officials in Turkey and abroad.
Founded in 1985 at Marmara University by a group of students, the well-known band has been storming the music scene of the country with multi-language resisting folk songs.
The band celebrated its 25th anniversary with a concert held in Inonu Stadium -home to the Besiktas football club- and drew more than 55,000 people.
Following the July 2016 coup attempt, Ankara banned the group from performing concerts and put six members of the band, including Gokcek, on the “wanted terrorist list,” with a 300,000 Turkish lira ($42,389) bounty placed on them.
A court released Gokcek a year after he was arrested in February 2019 based on his health condition, following five other imprisoned Grup Yorum members began their hunger strikes.
Bolek and Gokcek subsequently turned their strikes into death fasts.
Human rights organizations have long been calling on the Turkish government to meet the demands of Grup Yorum and their allies.
Grup Yorum demands from the government to lift a ban on the group’s activities, including concert performances, cease raids on its cultural center, and release imprisoned band members.