2016-07-28 09:45
  • Zehra Doğan has won the Metin Goktepe Journalism Award, that she recieved last year from Fadime Göktepe (mother of Metin Göktepe, who was killed by the police).
    Zehra Doğan has won the Metin Goktepe Journalism Award, that she recieved last year from Fadime Göktepe (mother of Metin Göktepe, who was killed by the police).

Her art used as ”proof” of terrorism

Yesterday the turkish regime shut down a large number of media outlets. Onur Erem, reporter at the turkish leftist newspaper BirGün, writes about the worsening situation for journalists in the country.

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“Will they jail me first or you?” This was the question me and my girlfriend, journalist and artist Zehra Dogan, were asking each other jokingly a few years back. With each journalist arrest in Turkey, we started asking the question in a more serious way. She was afraid that I would be the first, because I already have two court cases and many other prosecutions. At the same time, I was afraid that she would be first, because Kurdish journalists are being targeted more often. Last week, she was arrested and put on pre-trial detention.

Zehra Dogan, the owner of prestigious journalism awards in Turkey, is one of the few journalists who followed the war in Kurdish parts of Turkey for JINHA news agency - Turkey’s only women’s news agency. She was in the Nusaybin district of Mardin, where the military is imposing a 7/24 curfew for the last 5 months, until she was arrested. She wasn’t only writing news reports and stories, she was also making the paintings of the war. As far as I know, she’s the only painter who depicts the people and the landscape of the war torn cities of Turkey.

”Evidence of terrorism”

Her paintings are exhibited both nationally and internationally. And now the Turkish state regards her paintings as “evidence of terrorism”.  You didn’t read it wrong! Usually, you’d need to have weapons or bombs to be regarded as terrorist. But Turkish judiciary regarded these two paintings you see here as “evidence of membership to terrorist organization PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party)”. “This is a huge attack on art and artistic expression” says Asli Pasinli, the lawyer of Zehra Dogan.

Zehra, aged 27, will remain in prison until the prosecutor finishes the accusation bill and sends it to the court. She has a chance to be released from prison in the first court hearing, but this whole process is expected to take at least 3-5 months, as it happened to many other Kurdish journalists.

60 000 were fired

The failed coup attempt of 15 July made the already authoritarian regime even more oppressive. Since the coup attempt, more than 60 000 state workers have been fired from their jobs, including teachers, professors, one fifth of all the prosecutors and judges, all of the military prosecutors and judges, thousands of police and soldiers. 35 hospitals, 934 schools, 109 dormitories, 104 foundations, 1125 associations, 15 universities and 19 workers unions are closed and all of their assets are seized by the government, with the accusation of “links with Fethullah Gulen”, the cleric who’s accused for being behind the coup attempt.

The opposition in Turkey are afraid that the failed coup attempt will be a justification for the government to attack all the opposition. Leaders of the three opposition parties in the parliament was warning the government for many years about the danger of Fethullah Gulen and the Gulenist organization. But the government didn’t even listen to these warnings because they were using the Gulenist cadres for removing the opposition cadres within the state by made up court cases. Erdoğan had even said “I’m the prosecutor of these court cases”, which now he regrets.

Compared books to bombs

When journalists Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener were arrested by Gulenist prosecutors and judges in 2011, because of an unpublished book that they were still writing about Fethullah Gulen, Prime Minister Erdoğan defended Gulen and said “Some books are like bombs. Just like we arrest people before they complete a bomb, we also arrest Sik and Sener”. And now the government began arresting Gulenists by thousands. But this last wave of arrests include many non-Gulenists too.

Social media users are being arrested because they highlighted the past support of the government towards Gulen in their accounts. People who protested the Islamist marches after the coup attempt are being arrested with the accusation of “supporting the junta”. Leftist people are being fired from universities along with Gulenists. Even the distribution of Leman satirical magazine, which has close relationship with Charlie Hebdo in France, was banned because they came with a cover which both criticizes the Gulenists and the government.

”Clean all the country”

Everyone was expecting less polarizing speeches from Erdoğan after the coup attempt in order to unite the country against such a threat, but he’s doing his best to ignite more polarization. During his speech the day after the coup attempt, he was stressing that he’ll build military barracks and mosque on Gezi Park, an attempt which triggered Gezi Uprising in 2013.

The government and President Erdoğan keep saying that they’ll “clean all the country from these people” so it looks like they’ll use this failed coup attempt as an opportunity to clear their way towards the main goal of Erdoğan: Presidential regime.

During AKP-Gulen coalition, books were regarded as bombs. Today, paintings are regarded as “evidence of membership to a terrorist organization”.

For this reason journalists, opposition and all the critical people will keep asking each other: Will they jail me first or you?