Songs of Solidarity For Imprisoned Musicians

We boycott the powers that oppress, and we show support for those that are oppressed: two mutually reinforcing forms of solidarity.

Recent weeks have seen a flowering of support for musicians imprisoned in Turkey’s brutal jails. Like thousands of other political prisoners, these musicians are charged with ‘terrorism’. ‘Evidence’ is produced from anonymous witnesses – but their ‘crimes’ are singing songs critical of the government, or even just songs in Kurdish that celebrate Kurdistan and its culture.

Musicians from across the world have recorded music dedicated to Grup Yorum, whose songs of resistance reached audiences of hundreds of thousands. Now they are banned from singing, group members are in prison, and two, Helin Bölek and İbrahim Gökçek, have starved to death in a long protest hunger strike. But their songs are being listened to over the internet by new followers everywhere.

Last week saw the launch, in France, of a renewed international campaign for a young Kurdish singer, Nûdem Durak, who sang and taught Kurdish songs to young people in her hometown of Cizre, and has been sentenced to an extraordinary 19 years of imprisonment. Alongside dedicated songs and poems, the campaign has published essays from the Chilean writer and filmmaker, Carmen Castillo, who suffered in Pinocet’s coup; from Kurdish artist and journalist, Zehra Doğan, who spent nearly three years in Turkish prison; and from the sociologist, Michael Löwy. Carmen Castillo wrote in Le Monde,

The state death machine has already lost: her voice reaches us, perhaps even more strongly, as does that of Grup Yorum, whose musicians died in recent days after an extensive hunger strike.

Read more on the musicians in Turkey’s prisons here.


Nûdem Durak

Grup Yorum

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