Zehra Doğan, an ethnic Kurd journalist and artist, was arrested on 21st July 2016 after producing the painting, which depicts the damage inflicted by the Turkish army upon Nusaybin, a southeastern Turkish city, largely populated by Kurds. She was convicted of ‘propagandising for a terrorist organisation’ (Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law) and is now serving a prison sentence of two years, 9 months and 22 days.
Prior to her imprisonment, Zehra Doğan worked as a journalist in Turkey. She was one of the founders of "Jinha", a feminist news agency publishing articles in English, Turkish and Kurdish. Doğan's imprisonment takes place against the backdrop of suppression of freedom of expression and artistic expression in Turkey. Censorship in Turkey doesn't just mean the banning of artistic expression through legal means, but also includes threats, pressure, delegitimization, and hate speech targeting artists, journalists or writers.
In the case of Zehra Doğan, among other arbitrary interventions, the notion of societal sensitivities ("toplumsal hassasiyetler") was used to limit her artistic freedom. The artists who are engaged in the Kurdish rights' struggle are charged under the anti-terror legislation. This legislation is so vaguely worded and loosely interpreted that all cultural (e.g. language) and artistic expressions within the Kurdish rights' struggle can be construed as illegitimate separatist propaganda.
Freedom of expression and human rights are more seriously threatened today than ever before in Turkey. As a reminder, the lawyers of the Altan brothers were forced to leave the courtroom as their clients stood trial on Monday 13 November, accused of taking part in Turkey's failed coup. Both are prominent Turkish journalists, known for their critical reporting on Erdoğan's regime. It was merely an additional violation of their rights to a full and complete defense.
According to the platform of independent journalism, 90 journalists, writers and human rights defenders will appear before Turkish courts in the coming days.
Let us not forget Osman Kavala's arrest, one of the key figures within Turkish culture and civil society.
We take this opportunity to join PEN International and other international organizations in calling for their immediate release.
Exhibition of Zehra Doğan's paintings
« Les yeux grands ouverts »
24 Nov. - 10 Dec. 2017
Alhambar. Rue de la Rôtisserie 10 1204 Geneva
Organized by the the Geneva groups of Amnesty International.