Zehra Doğan

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Zehra Doğan
Born1989 (age 28–29) [1]
OccupationArtist, journalist
Known forPainting of the destruction of Nusaybin

Zehra Doğan (born 1989) is a Kurdish artist and journalist from Diyarbakir, Turkey. She is a founder and the editor of Jinha, a feminist Kurdish news agency with an all female staff.[1] She was jailed by the Turkish government for a painting of the destruction of the city of Nusaybin in 2017. Her imprisonment has prompted international outcry, including a 2018 mural by street artist Banksy in New York.


From February 2016 Doğan had been living and reporting from Nusaybin, a Turkish city on the Syrian border. On 21 July 2016 she was arrested at a café in Nusaybin. On 2 March 2017, she was acquitted of the charge of belonging to an illegal organisation, but was given 2 years, 9 months and 22 days in jail for posting a painting to social media.[2][3]

“I was given two years and 10 months [jail time] only because I painted Turkish flags on destroyed buildings. However, they [Turkish government] caused this. I only painted it,” Doğan said on Twitter following the sentencing.

In prison, she and other women created the newspaper Özgür Gündem Zindan (Free Agenda Dungeon), whose name is a play on Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda), an Istanbul-based publication that catered to Kurdish audiences.[3][4]

Her publication, Jinha, was shut down on 29 October 2016 by Turkish authorities, one of over 100 media outlets shut down since the failed military coup in July 2016.[5]


In 2015 Doğan was the recipient of the Metin Göktepe Journalism Award, named after the journalist who died in police custody in Turkey in 1996. The award was for Zehra Doğan's work about Yazidi women escaping from ISIS captivity.[6]

In March 2018, anonymous British street-artist Banksy revealed a mural measuring 70 feet long in New York City, depicting Doğan behind tally marks, representing prison bars. Speaking to The New York Times, Banksy said "I really feel for her..I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence.”[7]

In October 2018, Doğan received the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2018 Courage in Journalism Award.[8]

International reaction[edit]

In November 2017, Chinese dissident artist Ai WeiWei published a letter he wrote in solidarity with Doğan's case, drawing parallels between Chinese and Turkish repression of artistic expression.[9]

On 16 March 2018, England-based graffiti artist, Banksy unveiled a mural in New York showing black tally marks for the days of Doğan's imprisonment, with one set becoming bars behind which Doğan's face looks out from jail.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Zehra Doğan". IWMF. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 22 July 2018.
  2. ^ "Free Zehra Doğan - Voice Project". Voice Project. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Facts to Know About Jailed Turkish Artist Zehra Doğan | artnet News". artnet News. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Zehra Doğan, artist, journalist and activist released pending trial - IFEX". IFEX. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Jinha News (English)". Jin News Agency. Jin News Agency. 22 October 2016. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  6. ^ Hatice Kamer (June 12, 2017). "Gazeteci Zehra Doğan tutuklandı". BBC World Service (in Turkish). Retrieved March 18, 2018.
  7. ^ "Banksy just unveiled a new mural in New York City and this is what it means". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  8. ^ Kurdistan24. "Imprisoned Kurdish journalist wins Courage in Journalism Award". Kurdistan24. Retrieved 2018-11-04.
  9. ^ Kurdistan24. "Ai Weiwei pens letter to Kurdish artist imprisoned in Turkey". Kurdistan24. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  10. ^ Reporters, Telegraph (16 March 2018). "Banksy creates mural in New York in support of jailed Turkish artist". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 16 March 2018.

External links[edit]