Turkey: Artist sentenced to two years and ten months in prison

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was sentenced to two years, nine months and 22 days imprisonment for her painting showing the destruction by Turkish security forces of the Kurdish city of Mardin in the Nusaybin district, reported Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet on 6 March 2017.

While on assignment for the all-female news agency JINHA in Mardin, Doğan made the painting of the destruction, which is an artistic rendering of a photo made by Turkish authorities.

Turkish outlet Bianet shared a now-deleted Twitter post from Doğan’s account on 5 March 2017 in which the artist tweeted: “I’ve received imprisonment for ‘drawing a painting with Turkish flags on ruined homes’. However, it was them who took this picture, I just painted it.”

“My client is a journalist and fine arts graduate. Her paintings were posted without a comment,” the artist’s lawyer Aslı Pasinli said.

Initial arrest and detention
The artist was initially arrested on 21 July 2016 on charges of being a “member of an illegal organisation” and “spreading propaganda”. She remained detained until 9 December 2016 when she was released awaiting trial.

At the time of her arrest, authorities claimed her painting was proof that she was part of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a left-wing militant group that fights for Kurdish rights in Turkey, which the Turkish government has labelled as a terrorist organisation.

According to Hyperallergic, Doğan was acquitted of the original charges, but was sentenced for the painting and her coverage of a ten-year-old child’s notes or grades (there are conflicting reports as to whether they were notes or grades).

Art Forum reported that Mardin’s Second High Penal Court assessed that it wasn’t the painting itself that landed her in prison, but rather her choice to share it on social media as it showed military operations.

The all-female news agency JINHA, where Doğan was an editor, was shut down by government authorities on 29 October 2016 as part of the ongoing, wide-sweeping post-coup crackdown that has seen dozens of artists and artistic venues silenced, thousands arrested and hundreds of media outlets and civil-society organisations closed.

Military photo/Hakan Topal Twitter

Zehra Doğan painting/Hakan Topal Twitter

Top photo: Zehra Doğan/Twitter


» Hyperallergic – 9 March 2017
A painting and news report land a Turkish artist in prison

» Art Forum – 9 March 2017
Turkish artist receives two-year prison sentence for painting destruction of Kurdish city

» Cumhuriyet – 6 March 2017
Journalist Zehra Doğan was sentenced for imprisonment for sharing Nusaybin’s picture

» Bianet – 6 March 2017
Jail term for Doğan over ‘painting’

» Turkey Purge – 6 March 2017
Artist given 2 years’ jail time for painting destruction in Kurdish town of Nusaybin

» Twitter – 5 March 2017
Hakan Topal tweet

More from Freemuse

» 11 January 2017: Turkey: Detained artist released, awaiting trial

» 4 January 2017: Turkey: Novelist released on probation after 132 days of detention

» 5 December 2016: Turkey: Seven members of Grup Yorum arrested

» 15 September 2016: Turkey: Writer and brother detained on alleged coup-related charges

» 14 September 2016: Turkey: The coup still continues for the art scene

» 9 September 2016: Turkey: Recent reports paint grim picture for artistic freedom

» 16 August 2016: Turkey: Singer’s concerts cancelled due to coup-related remarks

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