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

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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