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This Turkish artist’s imprisonment is an attack on artistic expression


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Turkish artist Zehra Doğan has been imprisoned for over two years after her art was identified as terrorist propaganda.

The painting in question depicts the Kurdish town of Nusabyin and its destruction by Turkish security forces, as part of violet evacuations of towns and villages carried out by the government.

Authorities claimed that her art proves she is connected to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) – which they consider being a terrorist organisation. They used this as grounds to sentence the acclaimed artist.

In a now-deleted Tweet, Doğan said: “I was given two years and 10 months only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, [the Turkish government] caused this. I only painted it.”

Turkey is supposedly in a two-year ceasefire between Turkish security forces and PKK militants. Yet Amnesty International reported that approximately half a million people have been forced to leave their homes in the last year.

Doğan’s is also a successful journalist. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Metin Göktepe Journalism Award, and she is also the writer and editor for the influential feminist news agency JINHA. Whilst in prison, she has even managed to create a new newspaper, ‘Free Agenda Dungeon’, with her fellow inmates.

Zehra Doğan is a celebrated activist and, as her lawyer, Asli Pasinli, has suggested, her imprisonment is “an attack on art and artistic expression.”

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