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.
- Turkey: Dissenting Voices Dwindle as Opposition Journalists go on Trial
- Crisis in Turkey As Erdogan Purge Continues: 50,000 People Arrested, 100,000 Fired From Government
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.
Cartoon of the Day: Erdogan and the "coup" in #Turkey https://t.co/cykiYhZjfl— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) July 16, 2016
Via @alqudsalarabi pic.twitter.com/DaFBhf6Kwt
First anniversary of the #Turkey's "coup"— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) July 15, 2017
Via @TGlobePost https://t.co/GEazbRYpY2#15Temmuz pic.twitter.com/aLltrdwuRj
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”.
If Erdogan's watchdogs can brutalize protestors in the U.S., imagine what they do in Erdoganistan (former #Turkey)#DünyaErkekleriAnlamaGünü pic.twitter.com/PSuk2r90EU— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) May 17, 2017
The incident was also covered by US-based freelance cartoonist, Eric Floom:
#loserdonald #Erdogan #turky #trump #protest #cartoon #cartoons #satire #Erdoganbodyguards pic.twitter.com/aXm5d8rRpm— Eric Flom Cartoons (@e_flom) May 18, 2017
Many cartoonists satirized the April referendum which was widely described as a slide towards dictatorship.
Bangkok-based political cartoonist, @stephffart:
cartoon of the day - Turkey referendum @PravitR #turkey #turkeyreferundum #Turkeyref #dictatorship #erdoğan @eric_chol pic.twitter.com/h8KT0thZX9— stephff cartoonist (@stephffart) April 17, 2017
US-based cartoonist, Ed Hall:
Today's #Erdogan #Trump cartoon. Please share. @GottaLaff @laloalcaraz @co_rapunzel4 @MaggieJordanACN #turkeyreferundum #Turkeyvotes #turkey pic.twitter.com/LIVzbeNj1O— Ed Hall (@halltoons) April 19, 2017
Austria-based political cartoonist, Payam Boromand:
My new Cartoon #Turkishconstitutionalreferendum2017 #turkey #receptayyiperdogan #erdogan #akparti #evet #hayır #politicalcartoon #cartoon pic.twitter.com/lWPAaT53Gn— Payam Boromand (@PayamCartoon) March 16, 2017
In #Turkey even babies are imprisoned!https://t.co/mpEu7RIMOH— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) August 3, 2017
via @tglobepost pic.twitter.com/V9dzzyKN3j
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.
.@LatuffCartoons pictured trial of #Cumhuriyet newspaper journalists via @TGlobePost #FreeSpeech #FreeMedia #FreedomOfThePress pic.twitter.com/4UPFMyJFTY— TODAY'S TURKEY (@TODAYS_TURKEY) July 26, 2017
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.
Erdogan removes the theory of evolution from Turkish school books. Cartoon by Marian Kamensky: https://t.co/FQ0PjL7ZaN pic.twitter.com/jP2285M1O0— The Cartoon Movement (@cartoonmovement) February 1, 2017
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.