Helin Bölek, a member of the leftist music collective Grup Yorum, has been on a hunger strike for 230 days, and is on the threshold of death, according to her mother Aygül Bilgi, who spoke to the Mesopotamian News Agency.
“Minutes are slipping away from our hands. Our daughter is on the threshold of death. If I believed that there was a solution lying behind Mount Qaf (an iconic, mystical Middle Eastern mountain) I would go there, all I want is for my daughter to live,” Bilgi said.
Bölek and other members of Grup Yorum have been on an extended hunger strike, in protest of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s de-facto ban on the group’s concerts, which has been going on for the past several years. Their demands also include the release of the jailed members and the cancellation of the arrest warrants for other members.
The government accuses Grup Yorum of being affiliated with the banned leftist militant Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), and some members are behind bars on terror charges, while others are in exile. Bölek was released from prison last year.
Formed in 1985, Grup Yorum has released numerous albums and has performed concerts to massive audiences in Turkey and abroad. Members have said that they have never previously faced pressure like they have under this current government.
“Everywhere at any opportunity I repeat the same thing, and I will again, she is my only child, she’s all I have. But before all, she is a very good person. She’s not a bad person and she has absolutely not done anything wrong. I don’t want such a good person to die,” Bilgi said.
“I’m a mother and I’m by my daughter’s side 24 hours a day. I’m continually watching and observing here. Seeing her in this pain is not something that I can bear,” she added.
Another member, İbrahim Gökçek, is in Istanbul’s Silivri prison and currently on the 233rd day of his hunger strike, and his health conditions have also reached critical levels.