Imprisoned Kurdish journalist wins Courage in Journalism Award

By Wladimir van Wilgenburg October 28, 2018

Originally Published: Kurdistan 24

Imprisoned Kurdish journalist wins Courage in Journalism Award

Artist Zehra Doğan was sentenced to two years nine months and 22 days in prison. (Photo: Voice Project)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Imprisoned Kurdish artist and journalist Zehra Doğan received the International Women’s Media Foundation’s 2018 Courage in Journalism Award this year.

Several Kurds have won prices this year for their media work, education efforts, abilities, or human rights activism.

In March 2017, Doğan was sentenced for nearly 3 years in prison for her painting of destruction of the town of Nusaybin, in the Kurdish province of Mardin in Turkey, which remained under an on-and-off curfew for months in 2016. She is expected to be released in 2019.

A United Nations report the same month Doğan was sentenced revealed the extent of the damage in Nusaybin at 1,786 buildings destroyed, most of them apartments housing thousands of families.

According to International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), Doğan was born in Diyarbakir, Turkey, in 1989.

“She was one of the founders of JINHA, Turkey’s first women’s news agency that was shut down by a government decree in 2016. Zehra worked there as an editor and a reporter,” the IWMF said.

Moreover, they said that Doğan “courageously reported from places like the Kurdish town of Nusaybin, that came under curfew of the Turkish army, Northern Iraq [Kurdistan region] during ISIS presence, where she went to become one of the first journalists to speak to the Yezidi (Ezidi) women liberated from ISIS (Islamic State) slavery.”

Doğan’s coverage of the Ezidi women earned her the Metin Göktepe Award, one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Turkey.

Despite being jailed, Doğan continued her work including painting.

“Imprisonment does not stop Zehra from producing journalism. She has been collecting and writing the stories of the women political prisoners, reporting human rights abuses in prison, and also painting despite the prison administration’s refusal to supply her with painting materials,” the organization said.

“Zehra has been producing her own paint from food, drinks, […]. Zehra does not have a brush but makes brushes from the feathers of birds that fall into the prison. Zehra shows that neither journalism nor art can be oppressed by imprisonment,” the organization added.

While imprisoned, she has won other prizes, such as the Freethinker Prize from the Swiss Freethinker Association, and her works are on exhibition in many European countries.

According to the magazine Kedistan, Doğan was transferred on Thursday to the sinister Tarsus prison, infamous for its use of torture, together with 20 other prisoners.

“In the coming days, Zehra is to receive the prestigious prize of ‘courage in journalism’ in the United States. Those offering her this prize must make it a point of honor to denounce this new development, and bring it to the attention of the public,” the alternative webmagazine said.

“We invite PEN Club International and its various sections that support Zehra, to ‘make noise,’ as well as for Amnesty and associations of journalists so that this forced removal does not allow the Turkish regime to reduce Zehra into silence,” the Kedistan said.

Editing by Nadia Riva