Street musician Cihan Aymaz was stabbed to death in Istanbul for refusing to play a song, local media reported on Wednesday.
Ferhat Encü, former MP and current Istanbul co-chair for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said in a tweet that the song Aymaz refused to play was an ultra-nationalist Turkish anthem called “I will die for you Turkey”, and that Aymaz had been a HDP volunteer.
“As such, this is a racist murder,” Encü said.
Aymaz fell into the sea after he was stabbed, and lost his life at the hospital he was taken to after volunteers took him out.
Attacker Mehmet Caymaz was arrested later in the day on charges of first degree murder. “I asked them to play a song, they shouted at me. There was a skirmish. I did not mean to kill the man,” news network NTV cited Caymaz as saying.
Labour and Freedom Alliance, of which HDP is a member, held a press release in the area Aymaz was stabbed, condemning racist attacks against Kurdish language.
Aymaz’s family said the young Kurdish man was targeted deliberately for singing protest songs. “Cihan was already facing trial for his singing. We believe this is a political murder,” the family told Artı Gerçek news website.
“This horror was a reflection of the government’s policies of hate that cost young lives,” the alliance said.
The anthem in question was used in prisons as a means of torture in the infamous prisons of the 1980 military coup in the country, and resurfaces as part of anti-Kurdish hate incidents occasionally.