Second member of banned Turkish folk group dies after hunger strike | World news

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A second member of a leftwing popular folk music group banned in Turkey has died after a hunger strike in protest of the government’s crackdown on the band, the group .

The group, Grup Yorum, said on Thursday its bass guitarist İbrahim Gökçek, 41, had died in a hospital in Istanbul. He was placed in intensive care after he abandoned his hunger strike two days ago. He had been fasting for 323 days.

The group’s singer, 28-year-old Helin Bölek, died on 3 April, on the 288th day of her hunger strike. Hunger strikers in Turkey traditionally refuse food but consume liquids and vitamins to prolong their protests.

Grup Yorum, which formed in Istanbul in 1985, are known for its protest songs and is composed of rotating members. It has been prohibited from performing in Turkey since 2016 and authorities have jailed some of its members.

The government accuses Grup Yorum of links to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front. The militant group is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.

Gökçek and Bölek had embarked on the hunger strike while in prison last year to press the government to lift the ban and free detained band members.

They were released in November, but continued the protest to demand that Grup Yorum be allowed to resume concerts, other jailed band members be released and lawsuits against the group dropped.

Two Grup Yorum band members, including Gökçek’s wife, remain in prison.

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