News / Europe

Turkish Folk Group Faces Continued Restrictions

Grup Yorum performing - undated photo. (Grup Yorum/myspace).
Grup Yorum performing - undated photo. (Grup Yorum/myspace).
Dorian Jones
The Turkish folk group Grup Yorum, formed in 1984, has experienced political oppression since its inception. Group members have been repeatedly arrested and put on trial, their albums seized by police and their concerts banned.  Despite this, Grup Yorum has been one of the top selling groups in the history of Turkey.

Grup Yorum is celebrating its 25th anniversary in a football stadium in Istanbul with more than 25,000 people dancing the night away.

With 19 albums, it remains one of Turkey's most successful and prolific music groups.   
    
It is the group's mixture of music and left-wing ideas that has made it a target for prosecution, especially during the 1980s, when Turkey was under military rule.

Today, they still face legal problems. Group member Ibrahim Gokcek explains, saying, "At 4:15 in the morning, the police came and started knocking at our doors," he said. "We were in our studio here working on our new album. They took away the computer with our new songs. They pushed us on the floor and tear-gassed us. We were not able to breath; they stepped on us and handcuffed us and they made us crawl up the street to the police van."
       
Earlier this month, Grup Yorum's culture center was again raided. Due to Turkey's sweeping anti-terror law, the group often finds itself accused of supporting the DHKC, the banned left-wing group that carried out an attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara last month.

Emma Sinclair-Webb, a Turkey researcher with the U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch, said, "They are among the thousands that are being prosecuted under very widely drawn terrorism laws which basically mean that activities should be countered as speech association-assembly activities, get counted in Turkey as illegal activities which are directly demonstrative of a link, organic with an army group," said Sinclair-Webb.
 
Under the anti-terror law, even those attending Grup Yorum concerts are at risk of prosecution. Earlier this year, a French exchange student was sentenced to five years in jail. Included in the evidence against her was a Grup Yorum concert ticket.   

But such problems have done little to reduce the group's appeal or success. Grup Yorum broke all Turkish records in 2011, when over a quarter of a million people turned out for a special open air concert in Istanbul.

Vocalist Dilan Balci remembers. "We were expecting a large crowd, but never that many, said Balci."It was such an honor to be there. I was happy not for me, but for all our audience, for all of us. To see and hear so many people chanting 'We want a free Turkey', to hear them singing our songs, it was an unforgettable experience. I think this is what disturbs the authorities - that they saw how strong we are."
       
It is experiences such as this that keep Balci going. She is currently facing 74 years in jail, but says she is prepared.

"My family knows what I am facing and of course they worry, she said. "But we believe there is something called free imprisonment, which means you still continue your resistance in jail for greater rights. We already have two of our group members in jail. If I am jailed, I will continue to work on my music, I will improve my music. Through practice of your art, you master your art.
     
Balci's trial resumes next month. The government defends such prosecutions, arguing it is facing a terrorist threat. But critics argue such prosecutions of a hugely successful band only underlines the problems inherent in Turkey's anti-terrorism laws.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Hakan Celik from: Belgium
March 30, 2013 7:13 PM
This band overtly supports DHK/C which is a terrorist organization.The terrorist org committed many terror acts including bombing of US embassy in Ankara.

As a band supporting Al-Qaida would be unthinkable in the sates, Turkey must take every actions to stop Marxist proselytizing by this band.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid