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Banksy unveils New York City mural protesting against Turkish artist Zehra Dogan’s imprisonment

'I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence'

Jack Shepherd,Ilana Kaplan
Friday 16 March 2018 14:01 GMT
Banksy's new artwork on Turkish prisoner Zehra Dogan on New York building

Banksy’s latest artwork has been unveiled; a New York-based mural dedicated to the Turkish artist Zehra Dogan, who was reportedly jailed for nearly three years over a painting.

The anonymous British graffiti artist’s work features multiple black tally marks resembling jail bars, each representing a day Dogan has spent in prison. A rendering of Dogan appears behind one set, her left-hand bar changed into a pencil.

The painting that led to Dogan’s imprisonment — depicting a destroyed Turkish city — was projected above the mural on the evening of the 15 March.

According to The New York Times, the artwork stands at 70-foot-long. “I really feel for her,” Banksy told the paper. “I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence.”

The words “Free Zehra Dogan” appear on the bottom right corner of the mural, while Banksy shared the hashtag “#FREEzehradogan” on Instagram.

“Sentenced to nearly three years in jail for painting a single picture,” the infamous artist wrote on social media.

Dogan was reportedly sentenced to two years, nine months, and 22 days after painting the Turkish city Nusaybin destroyed by state security forces, according to the freedom of expression advocates PEN.

She later posted the image to social media platforms, leading to her subsequent arrest last March. After arguing she painted the image as a journalist, the state believed she was connected to the Kurdistan Workers' Party who stand against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Banksy’s publicists told the BBC that Dogan has yet to hear about the mural, adding that she currently shares a cell with 40 other inmates and only receives periodic visits.

A trickle of people strolled by to take photos of the mural, nestled at the corner of East Houston and Bowery in Lower Manhattan.

The crowd must have come and gone by early morning.

But one bystander who stopped to admire the mural for several minutes told The Independent, "It's's definitely bringing a spotlight to the situation. Now it's on the news. Let's see how long it stays up here."

He told us that he was walking up Bowery saw paint brushes, paint and told himself "it looks like a Banksy."

The artwork was a collaboration with fellow artist Borf, who has previously been jailed for graffiti.

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