In October, Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart was the subject of a global solidarity campaign from his fellow artists. Kart was facing nine years in jail for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erodgan through a caricature for Cumhuriyet, where he commented on Erdogan’s alleged hand in covering up a high-profile corruption scandal. In response, his colleagues from around the world rallied in support of Kart, publishing their own #ErdoganCaricature on Twitter, and he was acquitted of the charges. This time, Kart is joining cartoonists in standing with Charlie Hebdo.
Kart told Index he feels “so sorry” and he has “lost his brothers” in last Wednesday’s brutal attack on the French satirical magazine’s offices, where 12 people — including cartoonists Stéphane Charbonnier aka Charb, Jean Cabut aka Cabu, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac aka Tignous — were killed.
Kart also ran into trouble with Turkish authorities back in 2005, when he was fined 5,000 Turkish lira for drawing then-Prime Minister Erdogan as a cat entangled in yarn. Kart puts the spotlight on Erdogan’s chequered history with cartoonists rights in a second piece, where the president declares that: “I condemn the attack. Ten years prison would have been enough for the cartoonists.”
Erdogan condemned the “heinous terrorist attack” and Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu joined last Sunday’s march for unity in Paris. Much has been made of the apparent hypocrisy of world leaders who have suppressed free speech at home, taking part in what many considered a defiant show of support for that very right.
As Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg pointed out, Turkey imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world. Index’s media freedom map has received 72 reports of press freedom violations from Turkey since May 2014 alone. In the wake of the attacks in Paris, other Turkish cartoonists have been threatened by pro-government social media users. Police also raided the printing press of Cumhuriyet, as it prepared to publish selections from today’s issue of Charlie Hebdo.
Ecuadorian cartoonist Xavier Bonilla — known as Bonil — has also been targeted for his work. In 2013, the country got a new communications law which allows the government to fine and prosecute the media. After drawing a cartoon for El Universo, based on a raid on the home of a journalist and opposition advisor, Bonil became a victim of the new legislation. President Rafael Correa — who has been known to personally file lawsuits against critical journalists — ordered that a case be opened against the cartoonist. It found that his piece had invited social unrest and should be “rectified”, while El Universo was fined $92,000.
“I believe that humour is the best antidote to fear and the best defence against abuses of power. I have been drawing for 30 years, and I am not going to back down,” he wrote in an article in the current issue of Index on Censorship magazine.
Below are his cartoons in support of Charlie Hebdo.