In Turkey / Türkiye

Published in Turkey Purge, March 6, 2017  (also published in Turkish Minute)

Turkish artist and journalist Zehra Doğan

Zehra Doğan, a Turkish painter and reporter for the now-closed Dicle news agency, has been given a prison sentence of two years, nine months, 22 days for painting the destruction caused by operations carried out in the Nusaybin district of Mardin province by Turkish security forces against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“I was given two years and 10 months [jail time] only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, they [Turkish government] caused this. I only painted it,” Dogan said in a tweet she posted on Monday.

Painting by Turkish artist Zehra Dogan showing 2016 destruction of Kurdish city of Nusaybin by Turkish army in southeast Turkey

According to the Cumhuriyet daily, the Mardin 2nd High Criminal Court handed down the sentence to Doğan on the grounds that she drew Turkish flags on buildings destroyed by Turkish forces. However, Doğan said in her defense that she made the paintings and posted them on social media without any political comments.

Turkish security forces have been trying to clear southeastern towns and cities of PKK militants since July, 2015, when a two-year cease-fire with the group collapsed, shattering a settlement process launched by the government in late 2012 to end Turkey’s long-standing Kurdish problem and triggering the worst violence seen in the region in two decades.

Actual photo of 2016 destruction by Turkish army of Kurdish city of Nusaybin in southeast Turkey

According to a report by Amnesty International last December, an estimated half million people were forced from their homes as a result of a brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year, which may amount to collective punishment.

 

Related news:
Turkish painter and journalist Zehra Dogan arrested following failed military coup, The Art Newspaper (UK), July 29, 2016  [including photo gallery of the artist’s work]

… For the past five months, Doğan, who is the editor of the feminist news agency Jinha, has been reporting and painting from the Nusaybin district of Mardin province, a largely Kurdish region where a strict curfew was recently imposed. According to her friends on Facebook, she was arrested by police while she was sitting in a cafe on Thursday, 21 July. Doğan was later taken to court where—based on the testimony of an anonymous witness who did not know her name but identified her as “a short lady with a nose ring”— Doğan was charged with being a “member of an illegal organisation”, Jinha reports.

 

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