Since Monday 31th October several members of staff from the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet have been detained by police following raids on their homes. These include editor in chief Murat Sabuncu, the paper’s lawyer and cartoonist Musa Kart.
His home was searched by police around 5am before he went to the police station for questioning, apparently with his lawyer. Musa is no stranger to harassment from the regime. In 2014, following the publication of one cartoon refering to a money laundering scandal involving many people close to Erdogan, cartoonist Musa Kart was facing a 9 years imprisonment. He was finally acquitted of the charges. As he left the building to surrender to police, Kart told reporters:
“How will they explain this to the world? I am being taken into custody for drawing cartoons.”
“I’ve been trying for years to turn what we’re living through in this country into cartoons. Now I feel like I’m living in one.”
On Tuesday 1st November hundreds of protestors camped overnight in protest at the Istanbul headquarters of Cumhuriyet – last symbol of the fight for freedom of speech in Turkey.
A statement from the Istanbul chief prosecutor’s office said those detained were suspected of “committing crimes” on behalf of the Gülen movement, accused by the government of masterminding the coup attempt in July.
The Turkish government has embarked upon a “purge without limits” according to Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders:
“Cumhuriyet is once again the target of persecution, another 15 media have been closed and there is hardly anyone left to cover this. (…) If Turkey does not stop using the state of emergency to kill off media freedom it will soon be too late. At this rate, media pluralism will be a distant memory before long. Are people sufficiently aware of the dramatic change taking place in this country, where no media outlet seems to be safe from this never-ending purge?”
This marks a new chapter in media and press persecution by the Turkish state. 170 media outlets had been shut down since the attempted coup and 105 journalists arrested. Authorities revoked the press accreditation of more than 700 journalists while thousands of journalists are unemployed.
Cartoonists from all over the world, including members of Cartooning for Peace, are sharing their drawings in support of Musa Kart and freedom of speech.
See gallery below.
Cartooning for Peace, Cartoon Movement & Cartoonists Rights Network International call for release of Musa Kart, political cartoonist for Cumhuriyet newspaper, jailed one month ago.
See joint statement here.