Turkey jails artist for painting of Kurdish village destruction

March 31, 2017

A Turkish court has handed down a two-year, nine-month and 22-day jail sentence to a Kurdish artist because of her painting of a Kurdish village being razed by Turkish security forces.

Zehra Dogan, an ethnic Kurd from Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey, was given the sentence by the Second High Criminal Court of Mardin province after having been arrested last July. The painting in question shows the destroyed cityscape of Nusaybin, with Turkish flags draped across blown-out buildings.

Close to the border with Syria, Nusaybin is home to a large Kurdish population. Authorities said the painting, along with her social media posts, are proof that Dogan has connections to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a left-wing group that has fought for an autonomous Kurdish region since 1984, but which the Turkish state considers a terrorist organisation.

Dogan, also an award-winning journalist, argued in court that all the crimes she is accused of are journalistic activities, for which she is registered with the state and a member of the Union of Journalists of Turkey.

In a since-deleted tweet, Dogan 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.”

After Turkey unilaterally ended a ceasefire with the PKK in July 2015, Turkey’s “anti-terrorist” operations against PKK militants across cities in the south-east of the country has had devastating effects.

About 2000 people — mostly Kurds — have been killed or jailed as part of Turkish security operations. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, according to a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Turkish forces have also prevented Kurds from accessing food, water and medical care. They have imposed harsh curfews that often last weeks and prevent the evacuation of displaced people who were trapped in the middle of fighting.

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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