Turkey: Authorities’ persecution of Kurdish artists continues

The first hearing of the court case against four members of Grup Yorum along with nine others who are charged with ‘membership of and propaganda for a terrorist organisation’, DHKP-C, was held at İstanbul No. 15 High Criminal Court.

In a defense statement Ayfer Rüzgar said that the accusations simply can be seen as an attack on their music group. Defendant Seçkin Aydoğan, who is also on trial in another case, told the court that he was a musician and had no other income and that he would not accept the charges made against him:

“Why there is a case against me – I do not know! We are not the ones to be prosecuted here, but the police officer who took us into custody with brutal force and tortured us. The Public Prosecutor also released us even before we made any depositions. We are, I believe, under custody for the concerts we perform. I did not resist the police. I am not guilty and demand to be acquitted,” Seçkin Aydoğan said.

 
Postponed to 2 April
While Grup Yorum members Ali Arıcı, Seçkin Aydoğan, Caner Bozkurt, and Ayfer Rüzgar attended the trial, another member, Ezgi Dilan Balcı, couldn’t arrend because she is under strict house arrest.

The court postponed the case to 2 April 2013 and demanded that Ezgi Dilan Balcı should be brought to the court for the next hearing in April.

Ezgi Dilan Balcı was arrested together with Grup Yorum members Damla Sandal, Altin, and Bahar Ertürk after participating in a press conference, and then received a travel ban and were sentenced to house arrest. They have appealed the case in Istanbul to have the measures removed. Before the appeal court case, Grup Yorum members read a press release, while Grup Yorum fans held banners saying ‘Grup Yorum can not be imprisoned!’

In connection with the case Taylan Tanay, Chairman of the Modern Bar Association in Istanbul, said: “With the decision to sentence the artists to house arrest, the judges complied to prevent artistic activities. We do not recognise this decision.”

The members of Grup Yorum (which translates as ‘Group Comment’) have continuously been arrested and placed under house arrest by court order on accusations of being members of a terrorist organisation. The situation escalated in May 2012 when Grup Yorum protested against police raids ahead of its 13 May concert in Antakya, a concert which had been organised in support of the Syrian people.

On 8 August 2012, around 50 people gave a concert in front of the high security prison where Seçkin Aydoğan is held behind bars.

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Timeline

13 December 2011:   Seçkin Aydoğan was taken under custody

13 December 2011:   Seçkin Aydoğan was arrested

10 May 2012:   36 persons including nine Grup Yorum members were arrested.

8 August 2012:   50 people gave concert in front of the prison where Aydoğan is held.

14 September 2012:   Law enforcement officials detained 27 people who were waiting for the removal of Ibrahim Çuhadar’s corpse from the Forensics Institute. Police officers assaulted and injured the detainees, including members of Grup Yorum. Vocalist Selma Altin were reported to be facing the possibility of going deaf due to blows she received to her head, while violinist Ezgi Dilan Balci’s fingers were broken.

17 September 2012:   Selma Altin and Ezgi Dilan Balci, as well as Önder Aydogdu, Murat Gün, Bahar Ertürk, Mesut Yavuz, Damla Sandal, Derya Seyhun and Erken Erdem, were put under house arrest on charges of ‘making terrorist propaganda’ and banned from travelling abroad in accordance with Article 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

26 November 2012:   A court case against 13 people, including four Grup Yorum members (Ali Arıcı, Seçkin Aydoğan, Caner Bozkurt, and Ayfer Rüzgar), was opened.

2 April 2013:   Next court case.

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Kurdish singer Rojda under custody
On 23 November 2012 at around 8:00 pm at the passport control in Atatürk Airport in Istanbul the Kurdish singer Rojda was taken into custody. The passport officials claimed there is a search warrant on her for having offended the 2911 Meetings and Demonstrations Act.

Rojda said in response to why she was being arrested: “Because I sing”. It turned out that the singer had made the necessary deposition but somehow it was not showing in the system. Eventually Rojda was released.

 

Sources

 

Antenna-tr’s Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin, Issue 48/12, 30 November 2012

 

CNN Türk – 5 December 2012:
Grup Yorum’dan Seçkin Aydoğan’a destek konseri
(‘Grup Yorum holds support concert for Seçkin Aydoğan’)

 

Zaman.com – 26 November 2012:
Grup Yorum üyeleri hakim karşısına çıktı (‘Group members stood trial’)

 

IFEX – 24 September 2012:
Police detain, assault members of music group, journalists in Turkey
On 14 September 2012, law enforcement officials detained 27 people who were waiting for the removal of Ibrahim Çuhadar’s corpse from the Forensics Institute. (…) The police officers assaulted and injured the detainees, including members of the left-wing music group Grup Yorum.

 

IFEX – 20 September 2012:
Police Tortures Left-Wing Band Members

 

Grup Yorum Facebook-page:
facebook.com/GrupYorumSevenler

 

Photo collection of Grup Yorum’s protest demonstration in May 2012

 

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Related reading on artsfreedom.org:
Articles about Grup Yorum

 

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