Graphic artist detained for Erdogan criticism: “I received support from all segments of society"
ROZERIN YUKSEL- In an interview with GercekNews, Mahir Akkoyun stated that he had previously faced investigations for his critical stickers, and that he even received support from people who did not share his political views after his detainment.
Mahir Akkoyun is a graphic artist who designed stickers that shop owners could place on their shelves to highlight the economic concerns, livelihood difficulties, and unemployment problems that increasingly affect the lives of people in Turkey. His stickers were adorned with the slogan, "Did this product seem expensive to you? It’s all thanks to Erdogan." His designs soon became widespread on social media.
Following the spread of his sticker designs, Mahir Akkoyun was detained on charges of "insulting the president" and "violating the election law." After he was processed at the police department, he was taken to court and later released.
Akkoyun said, "The waiting during the detention process and not knowing how it would end was exhausting. I had very limited access to information about what was happening outside. Even though there was no actual detention order, I was detained. The prosecutor sent me to court with a request for a travel ban and a request not to leave the area where I was living. Both of these requests were denied in court, and I was released."
"The majority of people who sent me messages of support were people who did not share the same views as me"
Akkoyun mentioned that he received messages of support from many political figures, including the presidential candidate of the Nation Alliance, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, and the co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Mithat Sancar. Among the names who reached out in solidarity were also some political figures he had previously criticized.
"I received messages of support from many political figures and people who are involved in politics. Most of those who messaged me were not people who share the same views with me. Some of them were the very same political figures I had criticized before. The message I incorporated into my design was not just something I personally say. It was also a sentiment that people express in their daily lives when they go to the market and wonder about why a product is so expensive. I simply took that sentiment and reflected it in my design. That sentiment, and not myself [as a person], was embraced by people, and this was my goal anyway."
"I will continue to carry on this struggle"
Akkoyun, who noted that his previous designs had also been the basis of investigations opened against him, added: "The level of spread [of this design] was not something I had anticipated. I used to design similar things before, but they were limited in their reach. I had also been brought in for questioning for graphics that I had made previously, and there were a number of investigations against me. I was expecting to be detained."
Akkoyun emphasized the political importance of such work, saying, "Keeping the issues that people encounter every day on the agenda and pushing this matter is something I care about. I will continue this struggle on my own behalf, but I hope people will contribute to bolstering, popularizing, and centering this discourse in politics.”
Stating that he believed spreading these messages served a functional purpose as the critical May 14 elections approach, Akkoyun also shared his perspectives on the electoral process:
"This election is a very important election. It is an election in which certain things will be resolved in both a positive and negative regard. We want the ruling government and its partner, who have been wreaking havoc in this country for years and are responsible for many things such as corruption, poverty, hunger, and unemployment, to be removed from power. Of course, everything will not suddenly be good after they hand over power, but the path to a relatively better future will be opened."