Turkey Frees Another Member of Embattled Music Collective
Emel Yeşilırmak released from prison just a week after another Grup Yorum member was freed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) — Just over a week after the release of Ali Aracı, another musician and member of the Turkish music collective Grup Yorum, Emel Yeşilırmak, was released from prison today. Yeşilırmak, who was sentenced to five years in jail, had been arrested 18 months earlier in the same raid as İbrahim Gökçek, a member of the band who died earlier this year following a hunger strike. In response to the news of her freedom, Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connectioat PEN America, said the following:
“Twice in the same month, we have had the rare opportunity to celebrate a Turkish artist’s release from prison. We are overjoyed that Yeşilırmak is free, but believe it is necessary to underscore the fact that countless other artists and writers like her continue to be unjustly behind bars in Turkey. Grup Yorum itself still has countless members imprisoned, suffers repeated police raids, and finds their concerts banned. Prominent writer Ahmet Altan is still imprisoned after being re-arrested in November 2019, and activist and arts philanthropist Osmana Kavala spent his 1000th day behind bars this summer. In fact, Turkey ranks as one of the world’s worst jailers of writers in PEN America’s inaugural Freedom to Write Index. As we welcome Yeşilırmak’s freedom, we also emphatically call on the Turkish authorities to continue this positive trend and release all those unjustly detained for exercising their fundamental human right to freedom of expression.”
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.