Turkish ultranationalists preparing to unearth, burn body of left-wing musician

A group of ultranationalists in Turkey’s central province of Kayseri are threatening to “unearth and burn the body” of a left wing folk music group member who died due to a hunger strike against the government's ban on the groups songs and concerts, Birgün newspaper reported on Monday.

The group is on standby at the cemetery where İbrahim Gökçek was laid to rest, saying they are waiting on police to leave the graveyard to exhume and burn Gökçek’s body, it said.

Gökçek, the bass guitarist of Group Yorum, died on May 7 after a 323-day hunger strike in protest of the government’s crackdown on the band. Police have been standing guard at the cemetery where Gökçek is buried after an ultra-nationalist group made similar threats to burn the body of the musician.

Formed in 1985, Grup Yorum is known for its protest songs and is composed of rotating members. Turkish prosecutors have accused band members of being affiliated with the DHKP-C, a militant Marxist-Leninist group responsible for attacks on Turkish state officials over several decades. The group has been banned from performing in the country since 2016 and authorities have jailed some of its members.

“We don’t want an terrorists grave [here]. The police will be present for a few days, but they will eventually leave. And if they do, we are going to unearth and burn [Gökçek’s body],” Birgün quoted a protester as saying.

On Friday, members of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in Kayseri province took to the streets to protest Gökçek’s body being brought to the city for his funeral. The protest prompted the MHP to temporarily shut down the offices of all ultranationalist street movement, "Grey Wolves’’ and remove from duty the group’s local chairman.