Cartooning for Peace / Alert Türkiye – Zehra Ömeroğlu

Alert Türkiye – Zehra Ömeroğlu

On-going alert

17 April 2024

The trial of Zehra Ömeroğlu was postponed for the umpteenth time at the hearing on 16 April 2024, marked by the absence of the judge in charge of the case.


After years of waiting, the cartoonist is still in fear of a criminal conviction for a cartoon.

The next hearing has been set for 26 September 2024.

The multiple postponements of this trial are likely to constitute a violation of the right to be tried within a reasonable time, guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Cartooning for Peace expresses its full solidarity with Zehra Ömeroğlu and will continue to stand by her side.



Press release, 11 April 2024 – A few days before her criminal trial on obscenity charges, scheduled for 16 April in Istanbul, Cartooning for Peace, Cartoonists’ Rights, the Freedom Cartoonist Foundation and Freemuse reiterate their support for cartoonist Zehra Ömeroğlu of Türkiye, over whom the prospect of criminalisation hangs like a veritable lead blanket.

Zehra Ömeroğlu faces a sentence ranging from 6 months to 3 years’ imprisonment, as well as the payment of a fine, for a cartoon on the symptoms of Covid-19 published on 25 November 2020 in the Turkish humor magazine Leman.

Although Türkiye is bound to protect freedom of expression, guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and by its own Constitution, which also guarantees freedom of the press and the free dissemination of art, the country is ranked 165/180 in the Reporters without borders World Press Freedom Index 2023.

Determined to defend Zehra Ömeroğlu, our organizations express their full solidarity with her in the face of the trial, the outcome of which will be a true marker of the scale of the attacks on freedom of expression, and of the space allocated to women’s freedom of expression and feminist artistic production in Türkiye.


Read the full Press Release



15 March 2024

The Obscene Publications Commission (“Muzır Neşriyat Kurulu”) concludes that the cartoon by Zehra Ömeroğlu is obscene.


In a report issued on 8 March 2024, the Obscene Publications Commission concluded that the cartoon by cartoonist Zehra Ömeroğlu, published in the newspaper LeMan in November 2020, was obscene.

Her trial has been adjourned four times since the start of the prosecution by the Turkish Public Prosecutor’s Office, as the Commission had so far failed to submit this report, which is supposed to determine whether or not the cartoon is obscene. The date of her next hearing, on 16 April 2024, should therefore be the date of her trial, and the likelihood of her conviction is reaffirmed by the delivery of this report.

As a reminder, the cartoonist faces a sentence ranging from 6 months to 3 years’ imprisonment, as well as the payment of a fine, for a cartoon.


Cartooning for Peace is very concerned by this decision and will continue to monitor developments very closely.


For more information, see Cartoonists Rights’ press release on the situation: “Türkiye: censors find cartoon criminally obscene”.


Cartoon translation: “Pandemic sex…” “At least I didn’t lose my taste and smell”



The trial of the cartoonist Zehra Ömeroğlu, criminally prosecuted for “obscenity” for the publication of the cartoon below, published on November 25, 2020 in the humorous magazine Leman, has just been adjourned for the fourth time since the launch of the proceedings by the Turkish Public Prosecutor’s Office. Her lawyer denounces a clear violation of her right to a fair trial, guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

While waiting for the next hearing scheduled for April 16, 2024, Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Rights, who had alerted (see below) about her situation in November 2022, denounce the relentlessness suffered by the cartoonist, with this procedure which keeps her in a cycle of psychological suffering and of uncertainty.

From postponement to postponement, this needlessly protracted legal procedure has threatened to muzzle a brave cartoonist for the temerity of being funny and a woman. Through April it will be the focus of our continued vigilance.​


Read the full Press Release



9 November 2022

Turkish cartoonist accused of obscenity faces up to three years in prison

On 5 October 2022, cartoonist and illustrator Zehra Ömeroğlu appeared before the 2nd Istanbul District Court following the opening of an ex-officio accusation for obscenity prepared by the Istanbul Prosecutor General’s Office. She faces six months to three years in prison and a fine.

This follows the publication of a cartoon about the symptoms of Covid-19 in the comic magazine LeMan on 25 November 2020 described as humorous by the cartoonist. In an interview, she said: “I am a humorist and the purpose of my work is to look at the problems we consider very serious in everyday life from a different angle and to lighten up and laugh together. But even such an ordinary cartoon can be subjected to such a harsh judgment. Readers can’t believe that such a cartoon is punished.”


“Pandemic sex…” “At least I didn’t lose my taste and smell”


During her hearing, her lawyer stated that the cartoon, drawn at the beginning of the pandemic, depicted a human situation to make people laugh during the lockdown. He also added that “according to the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the presence of an erotic element is not a crime.” Still, the public prosecutor asked the Obscene Publications Commission (“Muzır Neşriyat Kurulu”), linked to the Ministry of Family and Social Services for the Protection of Minors, to produce a report determining the obscene nature or not of the cartoon. This procedure has already been used many times in the past, lastly it was against another comic book illustrator, who was considered to be obscene. Zehra Ömeroğlu’s verdict will be delivered at the next hearing on 9 February 2023.

With eight months to go before the presidential elections and a new law on disinformation adopted on 13 October in the Turkish National Assembly by deputies from the presidential majority, according to Zehra Ömeroğlu, the legal proceeding against her is indicative of the prevailing political climate. This new law criminalises the dissemination of so-called “misleading” information. For the opposition, this text is yet another attempt to undermine freedom of expression and media professionals, who already suffer from numerous restrictions and sanctions in the country for many years, as the Cumhuriyet and Musa Kart case remind us. In the 2022 world press freedom index published by Reporters Without Borders, Turkey is ranked 149th out of 180.

Cartooning for Peace deplores the decline in freedom of expression in the country and remains vigilant to the attacks on cartoonists, starting with Zehra Ömeroğlu, hoping that the report of the Obscene Publications Commission will dismiss the obscenity charge.

Partagez sur :