(New York, NY) — Ali Aracı, a flute player for the Turkish music collective Grup Yorum, was released from prison Thursday after being behind bars since June 2019. In response to the news, Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America said the following:

“We are overjoyed to learn that Ali Aracı has been freed after more than a year of unjust imprisonment. Grup Yorum has faced years of persecution at the hands of the Turkish government, which has fallaciously accused members of terrorism for merely making music and has repeatedly raided the group’s cultural center and banned their concerts. The group’s travails reached a new high earlier this year when both Helin Bölek and İbrahim Gökçek tragically died during hunger strikes after being imprisoned for their involvement in Grup Yorum. We are thrilled that the members of Grup Yorum can finally find a moment of joy in an otherwise devastating year, and hope that the Turkish authorities will release all other imprisoned members of the group and cease their ongoing campaign of harassment immediately.”

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you would like to learn more about Grup Yorum, please read ARC’s profile of the band. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.