From the hilarious to the heart-rending, the poignant to the surreal, cartoons depicting the crackdown on journalists in Turkey are filling social media channels.
It all began last month with a simple tweet calling on cartoonists to show solidarity with journalists and media workers jailed in the wake of Turkey’s attempted coup. But has now grown into a full-on cartoon competition with scores of cartoons submitted from around the world and a judging panel of world renowned cartoonists hastily assembled.
The initial tweet came from the new @FreeTurkeyMedia campaign set up by Amnesty International. The campaign – supported by numerous other organisations including PEN, RSF, Index on Censorship, Human Rights Watch and Article 19 – aims to ensure journalists and other media workers being held in pre-trial detention in Turkey are not forgotten. It will culminate in a global day of action on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.
Since the failed coup attempt of July 2016 at least 156 media outlets have been shut down, an estimated 2,500 journalists and other media workers have lost their jobs and more than 120 have been detained – some for up to nine months – without trial.
Among those jailed is cartoonist Musa Kart, who has been held for more than five months and is accused of “helping an armed terrorist organization while not being a member” and “abusing trust”. Just this week he and several of his colleagues from the Cumhuriyet newspaper were informed that their trial date has been set for 24 July. If found guilty, Musa Kart faces a jail term of up to twenty-nine years.
As well as cartoonists the campaigning has received backing from journalists, writers and artists including Ai Weiwei and the three journalists who became the focus of the #FreeAJStaff campaign when they were jailed in Egypt in 2013. Supporters of the campaign are encouraged to tweet a “solidarity selfie” with the #FreeTurkeyMedia campaign hashtag.
The deadline to submit cartoons is 3 May. Cartoons should be sent by twitter with a #FreeTurkeyMedia hashtag. The competition will be overseen by Amnesty International and the Cartoon Rights Network International. Judges include cartoonists Zunar, Steve Bell and Martin Rowson. The shortlist will be announced later in May.