Drawing Turkey's Purge: Erdogan's Post-coup Crackdown in Cartoons

Published August 16th, 2017 - 04:17 GMT
Many foreign cartoonists have covered Erdogan's post-coup crackdown (AFP)
Many foreign cartoonists have covered Erdogan's post-coup crackdown (AFP)

Thirteen months after Turkey’s failed coup, a harsh crackdown that has seen over 50,000 arrested and 100,000 dismissed from their jobs trundles on.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been criticized for what is seen as his increasingly authoritarian rule. Using state of emergency powers, the cabinet has passed multiple decrees without parliamentary scrutiny. Additionally, an April referendum significantly expanded Erdoğan’s powers.

Many, including rights groups, have suggested that Turkey’s post-coup clampdown has been exploited as an opportunity to repress all opposition. Journalists in particular have been targeted, and among those political cartoonists.

Cartoonist Dogan Güzel was among 22 journalists arrested in August 2016 when pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgür Gündem was shut down.

Speaking about his arrest, Güzel described: “They insulted us shouting: ‘Armenians, Jews, sons of Lenin; you are going to find out about the strength of the Turkish state,” Cartooning for Peace reported.

A cartoonist, Musa Kart was among the journalists from opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet who went on trial last month. Kart was cleared of “insulting through publication and slander”, avoiding a nine-year prison sentence.

In April this year, a columnist at Sol newspaper, Orhan Aydin was handed a suspended prison sentence of nearly a year for sharing online an image mocking Erdoğan drawn by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff.

Latuff himself has been an outspoken critic of Turkey’s purge, satirizing Erdoğan through regular satirical images posted to his Twitter account, as well as being published elsewhere. He himself has been pressurized to remove critical comics, including one in particular showing Erdoğan receiving Daesh backing.

In May this year, 12 members of Erdoğan’s security team were accused of involvement in an assault on protesters in Washington DC. After arrest warrants were issued for the men, the Turkish President said that his government would “fight politically and judicially”.

The incident was also covered by US-based freelance cartoonist, Eric Floom:


Many cartoonists satirized the April referendum which was widely described as a slide towards dictatorship.

Bangkok-based political cartoonist, @stephffart:


US-based cartoonist, Ed Hall:


Austria-based political cartoonist, Payam Boromand:

Meanwhile, much criticism has also been made of Turkey’s detention methods.
Hundreds of women are raising children in pre-trial detention in Turkey, Turkish Minute reported, some of them less than six months old. Added to that, as many as 17 women have been detained while pregnant or immediately after having given birth in the last nine months, Turkey Purge reported.
Here is Carlos Latuff’s take on it.

The cartoonist of Lebanese descent also covered the trial last month of 17 reporters from opposition paper Cumhuriyet. The trial was blasted by press freedom groups as little more than an attempt to silence opposition.

Erdoğan drew further criticism in June for withdrawing evolution from Turkish school curricula. The controversial move was accompanied by a reduction in focus on the legacy of secularism.

While Turkish cartoonists face greater and greater restrictions on their freedom of expression, then, outside of Turkey satirical drawings of Erdoğan and his crackdown are making up for it.

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