Two expat Gibraltarian poets and a local musician took part in an awareness campaign after Turkish journalist Ege Dundar reached out internationally to highlight the plight of Ibrahim Gokcek, a prominent Turkish musician who went on a long hunger strike when his band ‘Grup Yorum’ were arrested and thus prevented from performing concerts indefinitely, following the peoples’ uprising against the country’s oppressive regime.
Local poets Gabriel Moreno and Jonathan Teuma were invited to submit words that could inspire Ibrahim Gokcek who had been on a hunger strike for over three hundred days and was already dying by early May. In April a female member of his band had died after two hundred and eighty eight days of hunger strike.
Gabriel Moreno immediately wrote a poignant song for Ibrahim which was posted on YouTube with other international supporting collaborations. Moreno then reached out to fellow poet Jonathan Teuma who teaches in a Madrid university. Jonathan responded quickly and wrote a moving poem for Ibrahim which was also posted on the ‘Grup Yorum’ YouTube site.
On May 4 after being alerted by Gabriel Moreno, I submitted a poem called ‘Freedom’ which I had written recently and was deemed appropriate for the occasion. It was translated into Turkish by Ege the journalist and posted on the same site. A day later we heard that Ibrahim was ending his hunger strike and was hospitalised. The following day (May 6) Ibrahim Gokcek died from the effects of malnutrition (310 days) and his 30kgs body was handed over to his family. His wife is still in prison as are other members of Ibrahim’s band.
During the days that I’ve been involved, I checked out the huge open air concerts that ‘Grup Yorum’ were famous for and listened to some of their beautiful music too. I began to understand the perceived threat that their popularity presented the Turkish regime with. I was shocked to learn that Ibrahim’s body was taken by the authorities after the family had barricaded themselves in the morgue hall and legions of fans were chanting support outside. Dramatic video footage of the assault on the barricaded family appeared on social media and I was moved to write an article in their support which I submitted to journalist Ege Dundar on Sunday evening. That article and the ‘Freedom’ poem are published alongside. I have not heard back from the journalist as I write this (May 11).