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Kurdish street musician stabbed to death in İstanbul for refusing to sing nationalist song

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A Kurdish street musician was stabbed to death in İstanbul after he refused to sing the nationalist song “Ölürüm Türkiyem” (I Die for Turkey),” the Sendika news website reported.

A fight erupted between the musician, Cihan Aymaz, 30, and the attacker, identified as Mehmet Caymaz, in the Kadıköy neighborhood of İstanbul on Tuesday, after the musician refused to sing the nationalist song as demanded by Caymaz. Aymaz, who was allegedly stabbed in the heart by Caymaz, fell into the nearby Sea of Marmara during the altercation. He was pulled out by onlookers and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Caymaz was detained by police and subsequently arrested on murder charges.

Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party İstanbul provincial chairman Ferhat Encü tweeted that the murder of the musician was not an ordinary murder but a racist one. He said Aymaz was a volunteer for the HDP.

The musician, who was from the eastern province of Kars, was interrogated by the police in January due to a song he sang in protest of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a video of him circulating on social media showed. In the video Aymaz says he will continue to sing his songs and criticize the government even if he is sent to jail.

People gathered at the crime scene on Wednesday to commemorate the musician.

The Labor and Freedom Alliance, an election alliance of left-wing parties including the HDP, organized a protest there, which was also attended by a number of Aymaz’s relatives.

Racially motivated attacks against Kurdish people are frequent in Turkey. Kurds say they are being made a target by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government, who associate some Kurds, those supporting the HDP, with terrorism due to their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The HDP denies any links to the PKK.

Aymaz’s was the second murder of a musician in Turkey in a year. In October, another musician, Onur Şener, 45, was killed at a nightclub in Ankara following a row that erupted over a song request. Some employees from a state ministry and a public agency were allegedly involved the murder.

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