İbrahim Gökçek of Turkish band Grup Yorum dies after hunger strike

Musician İbrahim Gökçek died on Thursday in a hospital in Istanbul following 324 days of hunger strike .

Gökçek, a member the left-wing Turkish band Grup Yorum, had ended his hunger strike on May 5 and was taken to hospital for treatment.

Another member of Group Yorum, Helin Bölek, died on Apr. 3 following a hunger strike.

The hunger strikers were demanding that the Turkish authorities lift a ban on the group's activities, including on concert performances, cease raids on its cultural centre, and release imprisoned band members. 

The group is very well known in Turkey, having performed in all corners of the country since the 1980s, and releasing nearly two dozen albums. Grup Yorum’s performances have not been allowed since the attempted coup in 2016, while Turkish prosecutors have accused band members for being affiliated with the DHKP-C, a militant Marxist-Leninist group responsible for attacks on Turkish state officials over several decades. 

Bölek and Gökçek were arrested in early 2019. Gökçek was released from prison in February following deteriorating health due to the hunger strike.

After Gökçek ended his hunger strike on Tuesday, Meral Hır, a member of Group Yorum, said that "the resistance has achieved political success and the whole world has heard about it... We are applying for permission to perform a concert and hoping to receive a positive response."

Gökçek has become the third person to die in Turkey from a hunger strike since early April. Mustafa Koçak, who was serving a life sentence over charges related to the killing of a Turkish prosecutor, died in late April after 297 days on hunger strike.

An Urgent Appeal released by friends of Grup Yorum on March 19 stated that Mustafa Koçak had been transferred to Kırklar prison, Izmir where he had decided to start a “death fast”. The appeal also stated that, prior to Kocak being moved, he had been “severely tortured” at Şakran prison.