(New York, NY) – On Wednesday, Turkish police raided a cultural center and arrested six members of a musical collective based there. The members of Grup Yorum, frequently targeted by authorities for speaking out against the Turkish government, were released later that day. PEN America issued the following statement in response:

“Grup Yorum members were peacefully rehearsing for a concert when their cultural center was raided for at least the tenth time in two years,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “The Turkish government’s intentions are clear: harass, intimidate, and imprison Grup Yorum into silence. Again and again, the authorities have detained members for merely exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. Countless times, members of the group have appeared before the courts on charges of ‘leading a terrorist organization,’ and countless times these charges have proved baseless. Earlier in the year, Grup Yorum members Helin Bölek and İbrahim Gökçek died during hunger strikes after being imprisoned on similar charges. Will more members of the group have to die for the Turkish government to finally halt its relentless campaign of harassment? We unequivocally call for the release of all imprisoned members of Grup Yorum and for an end to raids on their cultural center.”

PEN America earlier this year named Turkey one of the top jailers of writers worldwide. See more about detained Turkish writers on our Writers at Risk database.

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.