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Zehra Dogan, March 2018


Zehra Dogan

Zehra Dogan

Year: March 2018
Location: Houston, and Bowery, New York City, USA
Banksy’s mural at the corner of Houston Street and Bowery protested the imprisonment of Zehra Dogan, a Turkish artist and journalist.
The gigantic 70-foot-long (21-meter-long) mural called for the government in Ankara to release Turkish journalist and artist Zehra Dogan. She was sentenced to more than two years in jail for her painting of the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, which was partly destroyed during fights between the Turkish army and Kurdish antigovernmental fighters. Banksy‘s work joins the chorus of international voices calling on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop imprisoning Turkish writers, journalists and intellectuals, which has been ongoing since the failed 2016 coup.
The gigantic mural covered the building’s whitewashed façade with stark black hash marks representing every day Dogan has spent in jail…
“One year ago Zehra Dogan was jailed for painting
this watercolor of a photograph she saw in the newspaper.
Protest against this injustice by re-gramming her painting
and tagging Turkey’s President Erdogan”
Dogan‘s face appears behind a set of prison bars, with her left hand grasping one of the bars that is also a pencil. The words “Free Zehra Dogan” appear in the mural’s right-hand corner, a call which Banksy repeated on the artist’s official Instagram account when posting a photo of the work.
“Sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a single picture.”
Banksy also posted the watercolor for which Dogan was jailed, tagging the official account of President Erdogan. The image shows Nusaybin with insect-like tanks and a giant scorpion consuming people against the backdrop of bombed-out city. After posting her watercolor to social media, Dogan was arrested, for alleged ties to the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization. Those charges were dropped but she received a jail sentence for her art.
“I really feel for her, I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence.”