The celebrated cartoonist, convicted of “supporting terrorism”, recognised for his bravery by CRNI and Cartooning For Peace and currently the subject of an exhibit at the Maison de Dessin du Presse, Morges, has surrendered to authorities at Kandıra Prison.
CRNI is saddened to report that our cherished friend and colleague, past winner of our Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award Musa Kart is once again a prisoner in Turkey this evening.
As recently as the beginning of this week Musa and his colleagues were hopeful that the Turkish police and prosecution service could be convinced to wait until the appeals on behalf of all the various co-accused staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper were heard (see their press conference below).
However, the appeals process for all those with shorter sentences failed in February of this year. Since then Musa’s imprisonment has been an impending possibility. We and many other cartoonists’ organisations have sent the intervening time asking for clemency via diplomatic channels, to no avail. Word came though of an imminent order for arrest and so Musa and his colleagues have elected to surrender at a time and place of their own choosing, a typically dignified gesture. Before entering Kandıra he said:
“I believe people will see the injustice that is being done here. Several brave reporters have recently summarised what’s happening in Turkey: people who punch the leader of a major political party are permitted to go free while those who draw cartoons or report the news are put in prison. We look forward to the day when journalists need not make proclamations such as these in front of prison gates.”Musa Kart, 04/25/19
As readers of our site will recall Musa previously spent nine months in illegal pre-trial detention on charges pertaining to the support of terrorism in 2016/17. He will now go back behind bars for another year and sixteen days, having been found guilty of one of the charges levelled against him in 2018. He has since retired from cartooning , preferring to spend time with family.
We categorically condemn the unjust criminal prosecution of Musa Kart. This is the climax of a fifteen year campaign of intimidation and persecution on the part of President Recep Erdoğan who has long harboured enmity toward Musa and indeed all critical voices in the Turkish press and media. Reporter Sans Frontières’ latest index places Turkey 157th out of 180 nations and says it remains the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.
We urge all concerned with press and media freedom to join in demands for the immediate release and total exoneration of Musa Kart and all his colleagues.