Turkey: Detained artist released, awaiting trial

11 January 2017

Turkish artist, activist and journalist Zehra Doğan was released from Turkey’s Mardin Women’s Prison on 9 December 2016 after having been arrested and detained on 21 July 2016 on charges of being a “member of an illegal organisation”. Though free, Doğan will face trial in Febraury 2017, reported IFEX on 21 December 2016.

Prosecutors used her paintings and writing on social media as evidence to establish her membership in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a left-wing militant group that fights for Kurdish rights in Turkey, which the Turkish government has labelled as a terrorist organisation, reported The Art Newspaper on 29 July 2016.

At the time of her arrest, the artist’s lawyer, Asli Pasinli, said: “Art and paintings can never be used in such a way; this is an attack on art and artistic expression”.

Doğan’s paintings are often of brightly coloured Kurdish women, but she also creates darker paintings of war and conflict.

Journalism and activism
Her work as a journalist and activist take her to places that are considered to be “under PKK control”, a point that prosecutors also used to establish her alleged ties to the group, though Doğan denied the allegations, saying that it is part of her legitimate work.

As a journalist, Doğan worked with JINHA, an all-female news agency that was shut down by government authorities on 29 October 2016 as part of the ongoing, wide-sweeping post-coup crackdown that has seen dozens of artists and artistic venues silenced, thousands arrested and hundreds of media outlets and civil-society organisations closed.


» IFEX – 21 December 2016
Zehra Doğan, Turkish artist, journalist and activist released pending trial

» The Art Newspaper – 29 July 2016
Turkish painter and journalist Zehra Doğan arrested

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