Artists Demand “Give Zehra Doğan Back Her Crayons !”

Zehra Doğan artists

Here is a translation of an article by Evrim Kepenek published in Gazete Şûjin , quoting women artists’ reactions to Zehra Doğan being denied possession or use of drawing material in jail.


Artists demand : “Give Zehra Doğan back her crayons !”

Artists have reacted to Zehra Doğan, journalist et artist jailed in Diyarbakir prison being denied access to her material. « Give Zehra back her crayons !” they demanded. For artists, denying Zehra the right to draw is equivalent to violating the right to life.

Zehra, a journalist from the Jinha press agency was arrested on the road between Diyarbakır and Mardin, put in custody, then imprisoned upon confirmation of her sentence by the Court of Appeal.

Since then, the administrators of Diyarbakir prison have denied her access to her material, and the artists say stopping an artist from creating is a method of « punishment ». “Give Zehra back her material !”

Paintings are a painter’s only breathing space

Sculptor Başak Şahindoğan says art must not be forbidden, that Zehra should not be denied the right to paint and that she must have conditions allowing her to do so once again. “For an artist, giving birth to a work isn’t simply an act of production. Words, colors, notes are an artist’s most intense sources of life – whatever the chosen creative vehicle. » Başak adds : ”When we look at an artist’s work, we see the link he or she has woven with life. For a painter, her paintings are an open window on clarity, her only breathing space. »

Art can suppress violence

Başak continues by saying that denying Zehra the right to practice her art is truly the same as denying her right to live, and this is unacceptable. “Morever, we must not forget that art is not something we should fear. As Tolstoy said, ‘art must suppress violence and only art can do that.’”

Stop condemning art and the artist

For her part, musician Yasemin Göksu says current leaders have taken their distances from art and artists in the past years to the point of designating them as enemies. “There exists a serious gut-level incompatibility between them. Why ? Because art is rebellious. It does not mince words. It is not hypocritical and may externalize the artist’s opinions and feelings. It may even hit you in the face with all of the truths it mirrors. This is why, for centuries now, fundamentalist and bigoted State systems punish all kinds of art and artists they consider a threat to their ideologies and very existence.”

Zehra Doğan, “by her drawings of the massacre committed by the current government incumbents slapped them across the face with their own crime” says Yasemin who adds : “With what did she do it ? With her artistic talent, with her conscience, and with her drawing material. In other words, when seen through the State’s eyes, with her ‘weapons’ ! Will a State, slapped across the face with its own crime hand back to Zehra tools it considers as weapons ?”

Yasemin says Zehra must get back her material and thinks that in jail, her style will become even more incisive…

They shouldn’t fear those drawings so much

Illustrator Zeynep Özatalay is another artist demanding that Zehra be reunited with her material. “Separating an artist who draws and paints from her paintings and her papers is genuine torture”, adding : “It means depriving her of the only tools that would allow her to breathe inside those four walls.”

She draws attention to the fact that ” The same kind of punishment is inflicted on Zehra Doğan and Musa Kart. If an author can own and use a pencil and paper, artists’ needs should be met also. They (the authorities) shouldn’t be so frightened of drawings and colors.”

Evrim Kepenek

Translation from french by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Turkish • Gazete Şûjin | Sanatçılardan ‘Zehra Doğan’ın kalemlerini geri verin’ çağrısı
French • Kedistan | Des artistes appellent “Rendez ses crayons à Zehra Doğan !”


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