Turkish journalist and painter punished with imprisonment because of a painting depicting the destruction of a town: I didn’t produce the painting, they did.
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Translation: Fairpress
Young Turkish painter, journalist and activist, Zehra Doğan was sentenced to prison for a period of two years and ten months because of a painting depicting the destruction of the town Nusaybin during the operation of the Turkish security forces against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The painter turned the existing photograph of the destroyed walls of the town on which Turkish flags were hung on into a painting; because of this she is accused of spreading terrorist propaganda. She is also charged because of an article she published.

Zehra Doğan was arrested on 21 July 2016, just a week after the military coup attempt; shortly after that she was charged with being a member of a terrorist organisation and making propaganda, and she was taken to prison. As media reported, she was identified by an unknown witness as a person who participated in the coup attempt, describing her as a short lady with a nose ring. Her posts on social media as well as her pictures were stated as evidence of this.  Also, the charge was based on the fact that she had access to the areas which were under control of the PKK. It was stated that she couldn’t have had access without a connection to the organisation. Doğan was released from prison on 9 December last year, and now she faces imprisonment for a duration of almost three years.

For Fairpress, Zehra Doğan commented on these absurd charges and on the background of the picture, due to which she is being blamed for propaganda for a terrorist organisation.

I was penalized because of ridiculous reasons that are hard to believe. For a painting in which I depicted the destruction in the town of Nusaybin. The judge gave me a prison sentence and said: “By painting the Turkish flag on the destroyed walls of Nusaybin, the propaganda of the (terrorist) organisation was made”. I was also penalized because of a news story I wrote about a 10-year-old child in Nusaybin. Although I published a video showing what the child was saying, I was penalized as if I was the one saying what the child had said. It

wasn’t me that shot the photo, they did, and it was distributed by the government media. But I was penalized for painting that photograph. With this penalty, in essence they accepted that shooting victory photos by hanging Turkish flags on the walls of the destroyed houses is inhumane and must be punished. But they punished the wrong actor: Not the one who destroyed the town, not the one who posed, not the one who shot the photo but the one who painted the photo. They made this painting, not me.

Photo: Screenshot: original photograph and painting of Zehra Doğan

But today I’m the one who’s penalized. My penalty will most probably be approved by the higher court in one month and I’ll be taken to prison. But in the future, they’ll be the ones who are going to be condemned. I’ll try to expose and condemn this decision, which is taking away my freedom of speech, Zehra Doğan.

Namely, since 2015 the Turkish army has been trying to clear the cities northeast of the country and the cities of the PKK militants, following the failed process of ending the long standing Kurdish problem in Turkey. As a result, extremely violent actions were carried out in the region. According to the Amnesty International report, the estimation is that half a million people were banished from their homes as a result of the brutal violence of the Turkish government over the last years.

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