Mustafa Kochak is a 28-year-old young man sentenced to life in prison on charges of “Violating the constitutional order”. He was arrested on torture testimony, after which he was tortured to testify against others. He manages to withstand all the torture and beatings, the threat of raping his pregnant sister, and does not sign false statements fabricated by the police. After 12 days of severe torture, a lawsuit begins, with no evidence against him on charges, but nevertheless he was sentenced to life in prison, abolishing all legal and moral standards.
In protest of the injustice and arbitrariness to which he was subjected, on 3 July 2019, Mustafa Koçak announced a permanent hunger strike at the Shakran prison (Izmir, Turkey), where he had been lying since his trial began. And on September 30, 2019, it declared a death hunger strike (a hunger strike that continues either until the requests have been accepted or until the striker’s death). Mustafa Kochak’s only request is to defend his right to normal trial.
On March 12, 2020, on the 255th day of Mustafa Kochak’s strike, heavily armed police officers invade his cell and take him to a nearby hospital. There, despite his clearly declared will “in the case of unconsciousness, I do not accept violent medical intervention”, such violent intervention took place. As a result of such interventions in previous hunger strikes, many political prisoners lost their memory, became ill with Wernicke-Korsakov’s syndrome, and some of them lost their lives. This intervention has no health benefit for the political prisoners who go on hunger strike and cripple them.
Violent intervention is torture!
With this torture, two musicians from the Grup Yorum band, Helin Bölek and Ibrahim Gökçek, are also threatened.
In the dark years of the junta, after the military coup of September 12, 1980 in Turkey, students formed the Yorum Group at the end of 1985. This is a period when political parties in the country are dissolved, progressive books and songs are banned and their authors and performers are persecuted; Dozens of death sentences have been executed against the nation’s best sons and daughters, hundreds have been killed without trial and sentence, and thousands more have disappeared without a trace…In these circumstances, the Yorum band, with their songs, tears apart the black cloud of despair that looms above the country and raises the voice of resistance, the voice of hope. In addition to Turkish, the group also performs songs in minority languages in the country: Kurdish, Arabic, etc., as well as some revolutionary songs from around the world.
That’s why Yorum is immediately subject to persecution and lawsuits – to participate in protests, to perform songs in Kurdish, etc. Their concerts have been repeatedly banned. In the 35 years since its founding, the Yorum Group has, in addition to hundreds of concerts in Turkey and dozens across Europe, released 23 albums … During those years, more than 500 cases were filed against members of Yorum in Turkey. But the band’s creators and performers never stop.
Since 2011, the Yorum Group has started organizing major free outdoor concerts under the heading “Independent Turkey”. These concerts are attended by: in 2011 – 150 thousand; in 2012 – 350 thousand; in 2013 – 550 thousand; in 2014, there were nearly one million in Istanbul and over 700,000 singing with Yorum in Izmir. These are concerts and political rallies. The Erdogan government is panicked by the growing influence of their music and the concert bans are starting again…
Following the coup attempt in 2016, a state of emergency was declared in Turkey. The coup was carried out by forces close to the Ankara regime, which Yorum had always fought against. But the regime banned all the band’s concerts, and a money prize was announced for the capture of 6 members of Yorum.
Two musicians from the band – Helin Bölek and Ibrahim Gökçek – turned their strike into a death hunger strike. Due to their poor health as a result of the hunger, they were released from prison, but their demands were not fulfilled and they continued the death hunger strike without interruption. As of March 16, 2020, Helin Bölek is on the 270th day, Ibrahim Gökçek is on the 273rd day of his death hunger strike.
At 03:30 a.m. on March 12, 2020, the house where the strikers were was attacked by heavily armed police officers, parents and all those inside the house were temporarily arrested, and Helin and Ibrahim were abducted and taken to hospital against their will. They have since been hospitalized in Yumranieye Hospital, Istanbul, under threat of forcible medical intervention.
We most strongly protest against the arbitrariness and repression against the musicians from Yorum and Mustafa Kochak and fully support their demands for justice.
We call on the Government of the Republic of Turkey to immediately end the forced medical intervention and accept their demands.
Movement September 23,
March 16, 2020, Sofia
After a week of attempts by attorneys from the Legal Bureau of the People to appeal against the decision of the 18th Chamber of the Civil Division of the Istanbul District Court, the Court of Appeal in Istanbul today issued a decision to release from hospital members of the Yorum. After hours of disputes with the hospital’s management, police chiefs and hospital guards at 10.30pm, their loved ones managed to get them out of the hospital. They are now back in the home from where they were forced out a week ago and are continuing their resistance with a death hunger strike.
Mustafa Kochak was also transferred to the jail cell again tonight. Heavily tortured, through his lawyers, sent a greeting: “Wounds are my dignity, I continue the death hunger strike.”