Jailed for a Painting

Zehra Dogan (Photo: the Voice Project)

A young, Turkish artist was sentenced to close to three years in prison for a painting she made of the assault by Turkish security forces on a Kurdish region of the country.

The painting was an artistic rendition of a photograph of the military operation, which included Turkish flags hung on destroyed buildings.

Zehra Dogan, a Kurdish journalist and artist who painted the destruction of the Nusaybin district of Mardin province, tweeted, “I was given two years and 10 months [jail time] only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, [the Turkish government] caused this. I only painted it.”

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Dogan’s painting (Photo: Facebook)

The tweet, which originally appeared on the human rights and online journalism platform, Turkey Purge, has since been deleted.

Photograph of the government assault on the village (Photo: Facebook)

Differing reports of the court’s verdict named Dogan’s “crime” alternatively as drawing the flag on the buildings destroyed by the Turkish forces and sharing the image of the painting, which depicted a current military operation. Another report says she had violated the curfew imposed on the city after the assault.

Dogan’s arrest and sentence seems to be part of a crackdown on the PKK, Kurdistan’s Workers Party, which the Turkish government designated by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization.

The government claimed the painting, done while Dogan was on assignment in Mardin for the feminist Kurdish news agency JINHA, proved Dogan’s connection to the PKK.

A report by Amnesty International published in June 2016 stated that recent operations by the Turkish government forced close to a half a million Kurdish people from their homes.