TURKEY – Turkish authorities have released journalist, artist and activist Zehra Doğan, imprisoned her artwork that was deemed “terrorist propaganda.”
Authorities arrested Doğan in July 2016 for painting the destruction caused by Turkish security forces in the Kurdish city of Nusaybin. She was on assignment for Jinha, the feminist news agency she founded. Jinha was shut down in October 2016 following her arrest.
Zehra Doğan artık özgür! pic.twitter.com/q22VZB2rrS
— Zehra Doğan (@zehradoganjinha) February 24, 2019
She was charged with having connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, labeled a terrorist group by the Turkish government. The court determined that her watercolor painting of Turkish flags hanging from the ruins of Nusaybin as “terrorist propaganda.”
During her trial, Doğan argued her art was a painting based on a photo taken by the Turkish military. Following her sentencing, she tweeted: “I was given two years and ten months only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However they caused this. I only painted it.” The tweet has since been deleted.
Doğan’s story gained international attention from human rights advocacy groups following a mural Banksy painted on the Houston Bowery Wall in March 2018.
On the first anniversary of Doğan’s imprisonment, Banksy and Borf painted the mural. The mural features tally marks for each of the days she had been in prison. Doğan’s face is behind one section of the tally marks, as though behind prison bars. In her left hand instead of a prison bar is a pencil.
Doğan sent what she called an “illegal letter” to Banksy thanking him for the attention her brought to her cause.
Ultimately, she said the painting was worth her time in prison “because I managed to show the reality of Nusaybin.”
Doğan was nominated for the Index on Censorship 2019 Freedom of Expression Arts Award. She used newspapers, bed sheets and her own blood to continue making art. In the summer of 2018 Amnesty International organized an exhibition of Doğan’s works in the city of Detmold in Germany. In early 2018, an exhibition of her paintings toured France.