Drawings of strength and sadness
Murat Başol, Tarık Tolunay and Zeynep Özatalay are part of a group of Cartoonists, who are following central political court cases in Turkey.
Since making Photographs is prohibited during trials they are visualizing the ongoing with sketch block and pen. On Social media the drawings are longed for messages about the situation of imprisoned oppositional. International human rights organizations are blaming Turkey to abuse the judiciary system for the suppression of the civil society.
Twenty editors and workers of the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, known for its closeness to the oppositional “Republican Party” (CHP), are on trial at the moment for blames of involvements with terror organizations. Ahmet Şık, a Journalist who is for the second time in the past five years hold in custody for month, said during his defense speech, that the real organization is under this roof. He pointed on the Judiciary system being misused for political reasons.
Semih Özakça is a primary school teacher who lost his job in the province of Mardin by a decree of the president. The same happened to Nuriye Gülmen, an academic working at the University of Eskişehir in the department of comparative literature studies. Both want to return to their teaching positions. In November 2016 they started to protest with a sitting demonstration in the heart of the capital Ankara that turned into a hunger strike as well. Since their activity was getting a lot of public attention the two of them were detained on the 9th of March 2017 for doing propaganda for terrorism. After a year of hunger strike Nuriye Gülmen is hospitalized. Semih Özakça got released from detention end of October but he is still blamed for doing propaganda for a terror organization. He started using a wheelchair due to his weak health condition.
The Cartoonists are not only documenting they are also participating in an act of solidarity to the fate of these prisoners and activists. Since the conventional media is reporting extremely limited under the stage of emergency that was declared after the failed coup d’etat on the 15th of July 2016, the work of the Cartoonists gain central importance. All of them are part of the strong and highly satirical Turkish Cartoonists scene. In the drawings about the court cases they alternated their usual style. The drawings are reflecting the kafkaesque atmosphere of all this trials.
Semih Özakça is melting away due to his hunger strike, but his face expression is breathing dignity in these pictures. His wife, Ezra Özakça, is a motive Cartoonist Zeynep Özatalay is embracing with an aura of fragility, innocence and pain, reflecting the iniquity of the ongoing political reality.