Turkish cartoonist, prosecuted for "obscenity", faces six months to three years in prison

Turkish cartoonist, prosecuted for

Translation: Pandemic sex... (A man sniffs a woman from behind): "At least I didn't lose my taste and smell..."

I reproduce a press release from Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Right on the judicial persecution that the Turkish authorities have been subjecting cartoonist Zehra Ömeroğlu (1985)(Linktr) for more than three years.

The trial of cartoonist Zehra Ömeroğlu, prosecuted for "obscenity" for this cartoon, published on 25 November 2020 in the humorous magazine Leman, has just been postponed for the fourth time by the Turkish public prosecutor's office since the start of the proceedings. His lawyer denounces a clear violation of his right to a fair trial, guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights

On 5 October 2022, Zehra Ömeroğlu appeared for the first time before the 2nd District Court of Istanbul. Since then, her trial, originally scheduled for 17 October 2022, has continued to be postponed.

During the most recent hearing, on 9 January 2024, another postponement was recorded on the grounds that the Obscene Publications Commission ("Muzır Neşriyat Kurulu"), attached to the Ministry of Family and Child Protection Services, had not yet submitted its report determining whether or not the incriminated drawing was obscene.

This is the third time that the report, without which a trial cannot be brought to a successful conclusion, has not been submitted. These delays constitute a form of judicial harassment against the cartoonist.

If convicted, Zehra Ömeroğlu faces a prison sentence of between six months and three years, as well as a fine. The gender dimension of these criminal proceedings must be underlined. Her humour is risqué, but the same drawing of a man would hardly be considered "obscene".

In the same period, Zehra Ömeroğlu was also repeatedly threatened. Media coverage of her case was followed by a widespread campaign of harassment on social media, including death threats, which intensified after the publication of another cartoon. Whatever the outcome of the trial, a heavy burden has fallen on Zehra Ömeroğlu's freedom of expression in Turkey, where there is a clear deterioration of freedom of expression and artistic production.

While awaiting the next hearing scheduled for 16 April 2024, Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Rights, who had already warned about her situation in November 2022, denounce the relentless harassment that the cartoonist is suffering as a result of these proceedings, which keep her in a cycle of psychological suffering and uncertainty.

From adjournment to adjournment, this unnecessarily protracted legal proceeding has threatened to muzzle a brave cartoonist for the temerity to be funny and a woman. Throughout the month of April she will be the subject of our continued vigilance".

This is not the first time that LeMan magazine has been cornered by judicial persecution. Such cases are not exceptional either, artistic freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey is pretty fucked up.

In these links you have the note in French and English if you want to move it around.

Turkish cartoonist, prosecuted for "obscenity", faces six months to three years in prison

Humour in trouble, a collection of cases (III)
Cases of cartoonists who have had problems of some importance because of their cartoons or satirical illustrations. There are also some stories of other people who, without being cartoonists, have got into trouble for sharing them.

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