Police Tortures Left-Wing Band Members

BIANET 20.9.2012 – Law enforcement officials took 27 people under custody on Sept. 14 while they were waiting to retreive the funeral of İbrahim Çuhadar before the Forensics Institute. The police savagely battered and injured the suspects including members of the left-wing music band Grup Yorum who were placed under house arrest by court order on Tuesday.

Law enforcement officials Friday detained and severely battered 27 people who were waiting before the Forensics Institute in Istanbul to retreive the funeral of İbrahim Çuhadar, a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) who attacked a police station in Istanbul’s Sultangazi district last week.

The detainees included vocalist Selma Altın and violinist Ezgi Dilan Balcı from the left-wing music band Grup Yorum. Their lawyers said Altın was now facing the risk of going deaf due to the blows she received on her ear drums, while Balcı’s fingers were also broken. The other suspects also suffered similar injuries.

Officials initally released five of the 27 suspects, as they were minors under the age of 18. The remaining 22 suspects were brought to the prosecutor’s office, and 17 of them were then transferred to court on Monday. The court consequently ruled to arrest eight of the suspects on Tuesday and placed the other nine suspects under house arrest, including Altın and Balcı. The Istanbul Police Headquarters, however, said the news reports that appeared on the press regarding the incident did not reflect reality and that it was the police who were the true victims of the incident instead, claiming that 12 officers were injured. Anyone could suffer a loss of hearing as Altın did, they said.

Reason for arrest: a previous record of arrest

The Istanbul High Criminal Vacation Court Tuesday decided to arrest Bahar Kurt, the owner of Tavır magazine, Musa Kurt, a reporter for the Yürüyüş magazine, as well as İlkay İşler, Cansu Öztürk, Sibel Kırlangıç, Feridun Osmanağaoğlu, Osman Beyazkaya and Doğan Taştan on the charge of making terrorist propaganda without being a member of a terrorist organization.

The reasons cited for Musa Kurt’s arrest also includes “taking photographs of the police, participating in events the terrorist organization called for and having a previous record of arrest.” Law enforcement officials had detained Musa Kurt on Dec. 24, 2010 during a raid into the Yürüyüş magazine’s offices and arrested him four days later. He was later released by court order on July 20.

The court also decided to place Selma Altın, Ezgi Dilan Balcı, Önder Aydoğdu, Murat Gün, Bahar Ertürk, Mesut Yavuz, Damla Sandal, Derya Seyhun and Erken Erdem under house arrest on the charge of making terrorist propaganda and banned them from travelling abroad in accordance with article 109 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CMK,) while Altın and Balcı’s lawyers objected to that verdict the same day.

In an unexpected twist, however, Judge Süleyman Karaçöl mistakenly wrote on the interrogation report that he had questioned the 17 suspects in relation to the charge of “drug trafficking.””Thus we have seen how scrupulously the judge has read the file,” lawyer Oya Aslan commented, adding that the decision to place the band members under house arrest was no different than a regular arrest order, as they were not going to be able to attend their concerts or work on their records.

Police targeted the vocalist’s ears, violinist’s fingers

Meanwhile, the Association for Solidarity with Prisoners’ Families (TAYAD) issued a press release before the Istanbul courthouse in the district of Çağlayan along with members of Grup Yorum and the People’s Front.

“Our friends taken under custody have suffered [various injuries ranging from] burst ear drums to broken noses. They all bear bruise marks over their bodies,” Suna Akbalık said in the press release. Lawyer Ebru Timtik also said they were going to file a complaint against the doctors who did not document the torture inflicted upon the detainees. “Is it a coincidence that [the police] targeted Grup Yorum vocalist Selma Altın’s ears? They burst her ear drums by hitting on both of her ears with their hands. They also broke violinist Dilan Balcı’s fingers,” she said.

“Selma has lost all of her hearing in her left ear and most of it in her right ear. There were people whose wrists were broken, people who could not walk on their feet, open their eyes, whose eyes were stamped on with heels and old people dragged on the ground,” Grup Yorum member Cihan Keşkek said.

The detainees were kept inside the riot police vehicle for 14-15 hours wearing handcuffs, she added.”We will not accept the ongoing injustices in our country, the massacres against the workers and the usurpation of artistic freedoms,” Pınar Aydınlar also said.

“They have attacked the ears of Grup Yorum’s vocalist and the fingers of its violinist. In fact, fascism is pursuing a policy that is highly consistent from its own perspective in every part of the globe,” poet İbrahim Karaca noted. Efkan Şeşen, Ali Ekber Kayış, the music band Kardeş Türküler, Hilmi Yarayıcı and Barış Güney also lent their support to the demonstration which ended with songs and dances. (RY/TAA/AS)