Grup Yorum members released: Our place is not in courts, but in concert halls

The members of Grup Yorum on pre-trial detention were released by the court they were brought before today. Musician Selma Altın, presenting her defence at the hearing, said that finger prints were taken from their baglamas in the police raid and commented, ‘Our place is not in courts, but in concert halls.’

02 Mart 2017 Perşembe, 16:07
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Members of Grup Yorum, who had been arrested in an operation conducted on the İdil Culture Centre in Okmeydanı, appeared before a judge charged with, ‘Knowingly and willingly aiding an organisation without being members.’ The hearing held at Istanbul Serious Crime Court No 23 was attended by the seven remanded members of Group Yorum and four workers, one of whom is on remand, who had been making modifications to İdil Culture Centre. Also present at the judicial complex to support the musicians standing trial were Edip Akbayram and Ferhat Tunç from the arts world, poet Ataol Behramoğlu, CHP MPs Sezgin Tanrıkulu and Mahmut Tanal, and Gracia Vanelli and Gianfranco Castellotti from the Italian arts world. Akbayram said in the statement he made, ‘I have been singing folk songs for fifty years. I have never seen it come to this. They are afraid of our folk songs. They cannot ban folk songs.’ Lawyer Ebru Timtik noted that there was absolutely no concrete evidence in the file drawn up against Grup Yorum.
 
Our weapons are our instruments
 
Selma Altın, presenting her defence at the hearing, stating that they were bundled off under arrest while suffering torture on 18 November 2016, said, ‘The issue was not purely one of arresting us otherwise they would not have smashed up our instruments. How are we to account for this malice and anger? Because of this we have to explain what Grup Yorum is about. Why are there no photographs of our smashed-up instruments in the file? Fingerprints were taken from our baglamas as if they were crime tools. I am also defending our smashed instruments here. It was our instruments that paid the price. Nothing happened in the three and a half months I spent in prison, but our instruments have been reduced to smithereens. Are we now to say to Zuhal Olcay, for example, “The instruments that came at your behest have been smashed to smithereens”.’ Altın, saying, ‘Our weapons are our breath and our instruments,’ commented, ‘If only we were on trial for our art. The way to put an end to art is to perform more potent masterpieces. Our place is not in courts, but in concert halls.’
 
 
‘I had been released from arrest half an hour earlier’
 
Musician Dilan Poyraz, for his part, stating that there was no search or arrest warrant when the police staged the raid, said, ‘When they staged the raid, I had been released from arrest half an hour earlier. The reason we were remanded was our being there. If we had not been there, we would not have been remanded. This is a political decision. They were all wearing snow masks and steel vests.’ Following their defences, the court bench passed a decision to release the eight remanded defendants and deferred the hearing until 13 June.