The cemevi, the religious gathering center of Alevi tradition, where the body of the musician was brought, was raided by the police and all those in the building were taken away inside the armored vehicles. The police used tear gas and sound grenades before entering the building where İbrahim’s body had been brought. Many who were detained, the videos show, were not able to even walk while being dragged to the police vehicles from the building, indicating beatings could have taken place while the police took control of the cemevi religious center. Peoples’ Justice Bureau, a civil rights group of lawyers documented the tear gas attack on the people before the police raid.
Ibrahim Gökçek played the bass guitar for the revolutionary music band Group Yorum in Turkey. He was 29 years old. Married for 5 years, but was with his wife only for 1 year because he was imprisoned for playing his guitar and wishing for the people of the world to live freely.
He started a hunger strike while behind bars which turned into a “fast till death” towards the end. His challenge to death was the only way left for him to call attention to the fact that the Turkish government did not allow the group to perform anywhere in the country. He gave his life because the government brought up false, phony, trumped-up charges to prevent him and his fellow musicians from playing their music. Wherever the group performed thousands would flock to listen to their music of love, freedom, brotherhood and the hope for a peaceful world where children wouldn’t die of hunger and people lived happily and freely. These messages were too much for the Turkish regime.
Two days after he postponed his death fast and was taken to the hospital, Gökçek lost his life. He is survived by his wife Sultan Gökçek who is also behind bars due to the trumped-up charges by the Turkish government.
İbrahim had been on his “death fast” for close to 324 days before taken to the hospital. On May 7, 2020, he was pronounced dead by the doctors attending him at the hospital.
The group also had a music and cultural center where music students could go and practice and learn how to play the guitar, piano, mandolin and percussions. Sometimes the center would show cultural films. Or, there would be classes on theater acting.
This too was too much for the Turkish regime as the cultural center, Idil, was raided numerous times by the police and every single instrument destroyed. The books would be thrown off the shelves, doors and windows broken, drums kicked in, broken piano keys thrown around. The students and film screeners would be handcuffed, roughed up, and taken into custody.
İbrahim Gökçek was “captured” during a musical session while he was in the cultural center on February 26, 2019 practicing music. He has been behind bars since. To protest and to seek an end to facing false accusation, to play their music freely and to protest the endless raids on their cultural center İbrahim Gökçek started his hunger strike while under arrest.
To protest the state terror against the group, three members started a hunger strike. There was nothing else left to do but to put their bodies, lives on the line to fight back.
Two other group member musicians also lost their lives during their hunger strike recently for the same cause.
The group members were charged, of course, as anybody who spreads the message of freedom does in Turkey, with “terrorism.” From a musician practicing, teaching, learning and playing bass guitar on the stage and travelling from town to town, from concert to concert, to a “terrorist”, claimed the government. No need to mention that anybody who is not a member of the ruling Islamic AKP party will face this accusation at the drop of a hat for anything they could do or say. Most of the journalists in prisons in Turkey today are charged with “terrorism” or “praising terrorism” or “helping or abating terrorism.” Is there any need to state the obvious that all these journalists in prison too were critical of the government and critical of the abuse, theft, sweetheart deals of the government officials, money laundering, exposing child abuse, land theft by the AKP members, the brutal fascistic attacks by the regime’s police?
Gökçek’s wife, who is also a member of the music group Yorum, is serving time in Silivri Prison, was brought to the funeral with police and gendarmerie escort. They were together only 1 year of their marriage when the Turkish regime separated them by levelling unfounded claims and secret witnesses to indict both of them, among others.
The funeral for İbrahim Gökçek
When İbrahim succumbed to death his body was brought from the hospital to a cemevi, a place of gathering for the Alevis, as is the tradition. The government is hostile to the Alevi tradition as it represents more humanist, open and equal relationships among human beings and respects life which is sacred to them. The government sees Alevi Muslim tradition a deviance from the orthodox Islam and its followers have attacked and killed many Alevi believers, musicians, writers, intellectuals.
The police surrounded the cemevi and the neighborhoods around the gathering place insisting no services to be held. Neither the journalists nor the crowd who came to pay their last respects to the musician were allowed to enter the neighborhood. The police came fully armed and with shields and armed vehicles with SWAT teams to deter any protest or outside demonstration. Several people, including the father of the deceased were detained when they insisted on seeing their loved one at the cemevi.
Police helicopters circled the Istanbul skies and police prepared their tear gas canisters to attack any gathering for the funeral. In surrounding streets of the Istanbul neighborhood when some sympathizers shouted their grief, the helicopters immediately guided the police forces there and the commanders could be heard screaming, “Arrest all of them!”
The pretense the police used to disperse the crowds interestingly was “social distancing.”
Civilian police also were present and joined the crowds with their liberal-intellectual looking pony tails and stylish denim outfits in the streets to single out individuals for detention. Those who were detained were put into armored police vehicles and taken away.
Then the cemevi, the religious gathering center, was raided by the police and all those in the building were taken away inside the armored vehicles. The police used tear gas and sound grenades before entering the building where İbrahim’s body had been brought. Many who were detained, the videos show, were not able to even walk while being dragged to the police vehicles from the building, indicating beatings could have taken place while the police took control of the cemevi religious center. Peoples’ Justice Bureau, a civil rights group of lawyers documented the tear gas attack on the people before the police raid.
As a part of the raid, the police kidnapped the body from the cemevi building and took it to an unknown location, trying to quell the demonstrations. Next day, the family was able to recover their son’s body from the police and headed to Kayseri, İbrahim’s birth town.
The tradition in Turkey is to bury the deceased at his place of birth. Gökçek’s family and friends planned on transporting the body to Kayseri, his home town for burial.
However, Kayseri, a conservative and nationalist province proved problematic. Since the musician was advertised as a “terrorist” by the Islamic AKP government, the fascist organizations and government lackeys started demonstrations in Kayseri and vowed not to allow the burial in their town. The AKP regime has been using the Nazi, racist, Islamic and ultra nationalist elements of its coalition partner, the fascist MHP party, for street attacks and where an armed militia was needed. The reaction in Kayseri was organized by these street thugs and their mafia elements.
The family faced the fascist gathering when they entered Kayseri. The gangs stopped the hearse and attacked the family of the bass guitarist. The government does not tolerate messages of peace or freedom lightly in Turkey.
Baki Ersoy, the National Assembly member of the AKP’s junior partner Islamic Nazi MHP party addressed the thugs and said, “Our governor sends his greetings to you all. No such funeral will be held here, we do not accept the burial here!” The street gang leader, the local organizer of the Nazi Grey Wolves declared, “Even if they bury it here, we will exhume the body and will burn it!”
Despite the threats and attacks, the family was able to bury the guitarist.
The wife of Gökçek was allowed to observe the funeral and was brought to the cemetery under a heavy police and gendarmerie presence. Her request from her prison to attend the funeral was ignored until the last minute and was granted only after a widespread protest. The security forces at times un-cuffed her hands, and at other times cuffed her again. She was allowed to see her husband’s face for the last time before the burial. She and others were allowed to put flowers on the coffin and on the grave after discussions of “security.”
The police banned any speaking or sermon at the cemetery. When the Group Yorum musician Bahar Kurt started to say some last words, she was brutally attacked by the police and beaten up.
Sendika.org news (M.B.)