Banksy Receives a Letter from Zehra Doğan in Diyarbakır Prison, Turkey 2018

Banksy just shared a letter written to him by imprisoned Turkish-Kurdish artist and journalist, Zehra Doğan, thanking him for his mural in New York that drew international attention to her imprisonment.

Journalist and painter Zehra Doğan was sentenced in March 2017 for nearly 3 years for painting a water-coloured image of the destruction of the Kurdish-majority city of Nusaybin by Turkish government forces.
She was arrested for her journalism and social media posts, of illegal “organisation membership” and “propaganda for the organisation.” and for alleged ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Banksy and Borf mural appeared on the Bowery Wall in New York City in March 2018 and coincided with Dogan’s first year anniversary in prison. The tallies on the mural represented the number of days she had been incarcerated, and the face of Zehra Doğan was seen behind bars and in her left hand the bar had been removed and replaced with a pencil, all underneath rotating images of the original Turkish military image and Doğan’s painting.

“I really feel for her. I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence,” BANKSY said in a statement to the New York Times.

Read the full letter from Zehra Doğan to Banksy below …

Dear Banksy,

I’m writing this illegal letter to you from a dungeon which has history of bloody tortures, in a town with a lot of bans, in a denied country. The letter is illegal, because I have a “communications ban” that forbids me from sending letters or making phone calls so I’m writing and delivering this letter in clandestine ways.

First of all, I’d like to tell you about the atmosphere here, We were getting furious because of the horrible sounds of dozens of fighter jets that depart for bombing our beautiful lands, mountains and cities. We know that every fighter jet is killing our sisters, brothers, relatives and animals in a short distance.

It’s very hard to describe the feeling of reading that someone you know is killed from the newspapers, nearly every day. It was a day like this we heard that the daughter of a friend in our prison was killed in Afrin. The same day, we learned that another prisoner killed herself by “hanging herself with a shoelace”. It was a day full of deaths. In days like these, one can’t endure living. During our daily debates, we were saying “No one sees that we are right and we are being crushed, destroyed by massacres. Even if they see, no one does anything and everyone stays silent. We are living a lie in a fictional life”.

Moments later, a friend got the newspapers that are delivered and we saw your artwork about Nusaybin and me, that protests the whole imprisonment. In a moment of pessimism, your support made me and my friends here enormous happiness . Far away from me and our people, it was the best reply to the crooked regime that can’t even tolerate a painting.

What makes this country, that slaughters the people who stand up against oppression, fears the most is showing the reality just like a mirror to them. And with your support, my painting now accomplished its mission of showing the atrocities. I was surprised when they accused me by “Leading the people to rebellion, rage and hatred” because of my painting. But now, I say “This painting was worth my time in prison because I managed to show the reality of Nusaybin.”

People hear me more than ever and while the rulers in these lands that speak the same language with me (because they forced us to learn Turkish) doesn’t understand me, the people in different lands that speaks different languages understand me. Art is a meaning of communication far beyond language.

I can’t thank you and Barf enough. I couldn’t imagine that my painting will be projected in a city like New York. I spend 12 hours a day imagining and this is even beyond my imagination. I feel stronger and now I’m painting Afrin.

Because it’s worth it.
Zehra Doğan

 

 

Photo Credit Banksy

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