Despite every­thing, a book of satir­i­cal car­toons titled “Duvar­ları Delen Çizgiler” (Lines that pierce through the walls) has been pub­lished in Turkey, to accom­pa­ny a trav­el­ling exhibition.

Français | English

The exhi­bi­tion “Duvar­ları Delen Çizgiler” is present­ly in Istan­bul. It could be seen on Octo­ber 12 and 13 in the meet­ing place of the asso­ci­a­tion Divriği Kültür Derneği, in the Bey­oğlu neigh­bor­hood. Both the project of the exhi­bi­tion and of the book are the ini­tia­tive of Görülmüştü, a col­lec­tive and web­site that col­lects address­es of polit­i­cal pris­on­ers in Turkey.

livre Turquie caricaturesMore than a year ago in Turkey, con­trib­u­tors to the web­site began attempt­ing to col­lect draw­ings and satir­i­cal car­toons done by pris­on­ers. The works of twen­ty-two pris­on­ers appear in the book, includ­ing Barış İnan, Cenan Genç, Hüseyin Yıldırım, Mehmet Enes Tunç, Mehmet Boğatekin, Melih Gür­ler, Ömer Özdu­rak, Ser­dar Sürücü, Aynur Epli, Menaf Osman, Özlem Özdemir, Zehra Doğan…

And of course, all the draw­ings bear the famous stamp from the “cen­sor­ship com­mis­sions” found in all the pris­ons. “Görülmüştür” (“seen” in Turkish).

Adil Okay from the Görülmüstür team who sent the book to sev­er­al pris­on­ers in dif­fer­ent pris­ons, tells in an inter­view on Duvar how the book and exhi­bi­tion came to be. He denounces also how this book – although it is absolute­ly not list­ed on the “for­bid­den books list”, is cen­sored and its entry is for­bid­den in the jails.

For years now we have con­duct­ed col­lec­tive projects with pris­on­ers and orga­nized exhi­bi­tions. This year, we want­ed to bring the pris­on­ers’ dreams of free­dom out­side, thanks to their own pen­cil strokes.

I attempt­ed to con­tact close to 50 pris­on­ers by vis­it­ing dozens of pris­ons. I sent over one hun­dred rec­om­mend­ed let­ters and fax­es (nor­mal­ly the admin­is­tra­tions have to oblig­a­tion of turn­ing over the fax­es to the pris­on­ers). The let­ters were lost, or were not giv­en to the per­sons they were addressed to, with the excuse of fre­quent “cor­re­spon­dence pro­hi­bi­tions” insti­tut­ed as dis­ci­pli­nary sanction.s Oth­er let­ters were returned ‘not at this address” since forced trans­fers from one prison to anoth­er are also frequent.

After per­sist­ing for 7 months, we col­lect­ed 70 orig­i­nal satir­i­cal car­toons on the theme of “free­dom”. We put togeth­er the exhi­bi­tion, con­tain­ing the works of 22 artists, with the sup­port of the col­lec­tive Homur Mizah Grubu. And the exhi­bi­tion has trav­elled to sev­er­al towns. Then, we pub­lished a book with the pub­lish­er Ütopya Yayınları.

Of course, the first to whom we sent the book were its con­trib­u­tors in jail. While the book pen­e­trat­ed in some ten pris­ons with­out any prob­lems, some pris­ons have begun for­bid­ing its access. One, then two, then the refusals increased…”

The joke being that the draw­ings in the book all car­ry the cen­sor­ship com­mis­sion stamp, and have thus crossed the cen­sor­ship bar­ri­er in Turkey…


Sey­it Oktay, a writer incar­cer­at­ed in a Type T prison in Tokat, talks about it in a let­ter he sent us,” says Adil Okay: “The fact the book would not be giv­en to me was ver­bal­ized in the deci­sion of pro­hi­bi­tion by the Edu­ca­tion Coun­cil attached to the Admin­is­tra­tion of Type T pris­ons in Tokat. So I was­n’t able to say that this was maybe a joke…They had tak­en this deci­sion because ‘the book con­tains draw­ings and texts that may imper­il the estab­lish­men­t’s secu­ri­ty’. Bare­ly a month ago, a new pack of laws sup­pos­ed­ly ‘widen­ing the field of free­dom of expres­sion” were announced in flam­boy­ant press arti­cles. (…) Unfor­tu­nate­ly the draw­ings done in prison, and that could escape it, once trans­formed into a book, could not make their way back through the walls of our prison again.”

Adil Okay con­tin­ues: “I would like to add the fol­low­ing… As you know, fol­low­ing the coup on Sep­tem­ber 12 1980, pris­ons in Turkey were trans­formed from “cen­ters for the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of detainees” into lab­o­ra­to­ries for the loss of iden­ti­ty. Even if there have been breathers fol­low­ing strug­gles, it is still the king­dom of the arbi­trary. We know this arbi­trari­ness well, through prac­tices and deci­sions that are not only ille­gal but often devoid of all con­science on the part of prison direc­tors, guards and edu­ca­tion com­mis­sions. The infor­ma­tion and the com­plaints we received con­cern­ing base­less prac­tices of a total­ly arbi­trary nature, the pro­hi­bi­tion of books, news­pa­pers, cor­re­spon­dence, forced strip search­es, mil­i­tary-style roll calls, med­ical exam­i­na­tions while hand­cuffed, and even child­births while hand­cuffed, tor­ture and forced transfers…”


The law con­cern­ing books in prison is crys­tal clear: “Entry into the estab­lish­ment is autho­rized by the admin­is­tra­tion for print­ed edi­tions that will be put into the library, or if brought by the pris­on­ers or sent from the exte­ri­or, con­di­tion­al on their entry and dis­tri­b­u­tion on the cam­pus­es not being for­bid­den by a court deci­sion. (3/2/1994–94/5382K)” In short, any pro­hitibion decid­ed by the admin­is­tra­tion, if not based on a deci­sion of jus­tice, is arbi­trary and illegal.

Adil Okay said: “In the lat­est news, at Diyarbakir prison, the book was also refused to Mr. Enes Tunç who work appears in it. He then filed a request by legal means. The judge refused his request. He turned to the Penal Court and says he will go all the way to the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Tri­bunal… The pris­on­ers are fight­ing for our rights as well as for their own. They must fight, even to read a book.”

Adil spec­i­fies that arti­cle 64 of the Con­sti­tu­tion states that the State pro­vides sup­port to artists and artis­tic activ­i­ties. “This is what the Con­sti­tu­tion says but when the artists are con­sid­ered ‘oppo­nents”, the laws no longer apply. And despite all the laws, legal book become ille­gal in jail. We must­n’t aban­don the pris­on­ers to their strug­gle. Sup­port­ing them in their efforts to read is also a duty for poets, authors and journalists…”

Adil Okay clos­es with a mes­sage for the Turk­ish Min­is­ter of Jus­tice, “If these laws exist then undo these con­tra­dic­to­ry prac­tices and bring pro­ceed­ings against arbi­trary cen­sors. Oth­er­wise, one way or anoth­er, we will make our way through the pro­hi­bi­tions, just as these artists pierced the prison walls with their pencils.”

  • Plus aucune dif­férence entre l’ex­térieur et intérieur…
    No more dif­fer­ences between out­side and inside…

Lead Pho­to: One of the pre­vi­ous exhi­bi­tions in Adana.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
Vous pouvez utiliser, partager les articles et les traductions de Kedistan en précisant la source et en ajoutant un lien afin de respecter le travail des auteur(e)s et traductrices/teurs. Merci.
Kedistan’ın tüm yayınlarını, yazar ve çevirmenlerin emeğine saygı göstererek, kaynak ve link vererek paylaşabilirisiniz. Teşekkürler.
Ji kerema xwere dema hun nivîsên Kedistanê parve dikin, ji bo rêzgirtina maf û keda nivîskar û wergêr, lînk û navê malperê wek çavkanî diyar bikin. Spas.
You may use and share Kedistan’s articles and translations, specifying the source and adding a link in order to respect the writer(s) and translator(s) work. Thank you.
Por respeto hacia la labor de las autoras y traductoras, puedes utilizar y compartir los artículos y las traducciones de Kedistan citando la fuente y añadiendo el enlace. Gracias.
KEDISTAN on EmailKEDISTAN on FacebookKEDISTAN on TwitterKEDISTAN on Youtube
Le petit mag­a­zine qui ne se laisse pas caress­er dans le sens du poil.