Three newly graduated university students at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Ankara, four according to other sources, were arrested for carrying banners that, according to a statement from the public prosecutor’s office on 7 July, insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The statement did not initially specify which posters were the reason for the opening of the investigation and the arrest of the students.
ODTÜ University hosts a traditional graduation parade where students carry banners with various messages, some of which alluded to the 24 June elections won by Erdogan, criticising the government and supporting the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem Ince.
One banner supported the main opposition candidate with the message ‘This will not end like this’, referring to his defeat in the elections.
It now appears that the prosecution’s action was prompted in part by one of the banners with a series of caricatures of Erdogan depicted as various animals, which is a classic cover of the satirical magazine Penguen magazine’s 2005 cover.
The banner is based on an illustration that was on the cover of the 127th issue of the satirical magazine Penguen on 24 February 2005 and showed different animals with Erdogan’s face.
Penguen did this cover to ridicule Erdogan’s lawsuit against Musa Kartthe cover was made by Penguen to ridicule Erdogan’s lawsuit against a cartoonist for the Turkish newspaper Cumhurriyet who had drawn the president as a cat. In 2006, a court in Ankara dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that Kart’s cartoon fell within the limits of freedom of expression.
Erdogan would later achieve his goal, carry a Musa Kart and his colleagues at the newspaper to jail. Penguin magazine was not spared from Erdogan’s tentacles either. In 2015, two Penguin magazine cartoonists were fined for this cover.
Erdogan’s long hooves
Turkey’s president has a long track record of railing against magazines and cartoonists. His particular war on cartoons and his obsession with denouncing, fining and arresting authors dates back to the early 2000s.
Blocking of websites
Not content with this, Erdogan’s government has extended the persecution to the internet and the list of blocked websites and blogs in Turkey continues to grow. It even manages to get sites blocked in other countries, as in the case of Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff‘s blog, which was blocked in Turkey in 2016 and recently in the US also in Pakistan.
According to WordPress data, during the first half of 2016, the Turkish government was one of the governments that filed the most complaints and succeeded in blocking the most sites.
It is also possible to search in Lumen for “Erdogan” (575 results) or “Recep Tayyip Erdogan” (1722 results) to see that pages continued to be pursued and attempted to be blocked on the direct orders of the Turkish president, through lawyers or any other of his legal arms.
Erdogan doesn’t shy away from anything, he picks on anyone he considers dissident such as teachers, intellectuals, journalists or artists. Today we learned that singer and actress Zuhal Olcay was sentenced to more than eleven months in prison for “insulting” Erdogan through the lyrics of her songs.