Swiss Freethinkers bestows ‘Free Thought Award’ to jailed journalist, artist Zehra Doğan

Zehra Doğan, a painter and reporter was given a prison sentence of 2 years, 9 months, 22 days for painting the destruction caused by operations in Nusaybin.

Switzerland’s Freethinkers, a nonprofit organisation for free thought, will bestow the Free Thought Award to jailed Kurdish journalist and artist Zehra Doğan, who has been kept in Diyarbakır E-Type Prison for months.

According to a report by BBC Turkish, the prize is going to be presented in a ceremony to be held in Zurich on Sunday (Oct. 5, 2016). The award will be received by her friends on the behalf of Zehra Doğan.

Journalist and artist Doğan, who both reported and painted the armed clashes in Nusaybin in 2016, was arrested and stayed in prison for 5 months after leaving the city. After her release, Zehra Doğan was sentenced to 33 months in prison in June 2017 and sent back to Diyarbakir E-Type prison. The court charged her of making “propaganda for terror organization” by describing her paintings as “beyond the limits of criticism.” So, the court give prison sentences to Doğan over not only her reporting but also her painting.

Freethinkers, founded in 1908 and working on issues such as freedom of thought and secularism, handed out Free Thought Award for the first time in 2015. This year, the award will be given for the second time.

The award in 2015 was shared between Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi and Waleed Abulkhair, who were sentenced to whipping and imprisonment for human rights activities in Saudi Arabia.

At this year’s awards ceremony, an exhibition will be organized in which Zehra Doğan’s paintings drawn both during her imprisonment in 2016 and before sent back to prison in 2017.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 256 journalists and media workers are in jails as of October 30, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 232 are arrested pending trial, only 24 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 133 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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