In Mosul exhibition, Iraqi artists process brutal rule of Daesh

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A woman looks at a painting during an art exhibition at the Mosul Museum Hall in Mosul, Iraq January 30, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. (Reuters)
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People look at the painting and sculpture during an art exhibition at the Mosul Museum Hall in Mosul, Iraq January 30, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. (Reuters)
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A man looks at the painting during an art exhibition at the Mosul Museum Hall in Mosul, Iraq January 30, 2019. Picture taken January 30, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 03 February 2019
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In Mosul exhibition, Iraqi artists process brutal rule of Daesh

  • Three years under the oppressive and violent rule of Daesh and the military campaign which drove it out in 2017 left much of the northern city in ruins

MOSUL: A raven perched on the shoulder of a woman with flaming hair is Iraqi artist Marwan Fathi’s symbol for the terrible events he and his home city Mosul have had to endure.
Three years under the oppressive and violent rule of Daesh and the military campaign which drove it out in 2017 left much of the northern city in ruins. Thousands were killed, rendered homeless or maimed. Those who survived are deeply traumatized.
“I still jump awake at night thinking an air strike is about to hit or that they are coming to take one of us,” Fathi, 36, said. “Everyday is a struggle.”
Fathi’s work is on display in “Return to Mosul” — the city’s first art exhibition since before it was seized by Daesh, whose ultra hard-line version of Sunni Islam prohibits most art forms.
Artists from across Iraq are taking part in the six-day show, including many who lived in Mosul when it was in the militants’ grip.
Hawkar Riskin’s haunting work ‘destruction’ depicts a giant skeleton standing on one leg, while Mohammad Al Kinani’s series of paintings — ‘Caliphate I’, ‘Caliphate II’ and ‘Caliphate III’ represents the beginning and end of Daesh, and Mosul’s rebirth.
Fathi said the artists who stayed in the city lived in constant fear and despair.
“There was a time when we considered killing ourselves. We reached that low. But then we thought, what would happen to the children?” Fathi, a professor of fine arts, said.
JONAH AND THE CITY
The show is in the newly re-opened Royal Hall of the Mosul Museum, which was looted and destroyed by Daesh and in the ensuing war to wrest control of the city.
Ahmed Mozahem, another Mosul-born artist, continued to work in secret while the city was under the militants’. Using a writing pad he kept hidden to avoid discovery, Mozahem produced 40 pencil drawings which are now among his most cherished possessions, an expression of what he and his family suffered.
For “City of the Whale,” his painting in the exhibition, Mozahem drew on the story of the prophet Jonah and the whale, which features Nineveh, the ancient Assyrian city which stood roughly where Mosul is today.
Following their capture of the city in 2014, Daesh went on a rampage, destroying many of Mosul’s ancient sites and artefacts, including a shrine believed by many to be Jonah’s tomb.
The militants not only destroyed the city, Mozahem said. “They also killed something inside, our spirit.”
But Matthew Vincent, an American archaeologist, says technology can help preserve some of what was lost. Vincent is a co-founder of a crowdsourced, digital preservation project called Rekrei, which collects photographs of damaged or lost monuments and artefacts to re-create these in 3D representations.
At the Mosul Museum, visitors are now able to catch virtual glimpse of ancient Assyrian treasures destroyed by Daesh. One of them, the Lion of Mosul, was a colossal Assyrian guardian lion from about 860 BCE, one of two which stood at the entrance of the Temple of Ishtar at Nimrud, Iraq.
“It is never going to replace the original but new technology is giving us a path we simply didn’t have before,” Vincent said.


Verdict expected in mass Turkey trial of ‘coup ringleaders’

Updated 20 min 36 sec ago
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Verdict expected in mass Turkey trial of ‘coup ringleaders’

  • The suspects also each face 55,880 years in jail on the charge of injuring 2,558 civilians and 177 security personnel
  • Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted

ANKARA: A Turkish court is set to hand down verdicts Thursday to more than 220 suspects in one of the biggest trials relating to the 2016 failed overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The trial of 224 suspects including more than two dozen former generals began in May 2017 in the country's largest courtroom inside a prison complex in Sincan, Ankara.
The space was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials and has room for 1,558 people.
Among the suspects is US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of ordering the attempted putsch which left hundreds dead and thousands more injured.
Gulen strongly denies the claims. Turkey has failed to secure his extradition.
The charges against the main suspects include "violating the constitution", "using coercion and violence in an attempt to overthrow" parliament and the Turkish government, "martyring 250 citizens" and "attempting to kill 2,735 citizens".
The prosecutor last month sought 252 aggravated - without parole - life sentences against nearly 40 suspects, local media reported. Such sentences carry harsher prison conditions.
The suspects also each face 55,880 years in jail on the charge of injuring 2,558 civilians and 177 security personnel, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Since July 2016, tens of thousands of people have been arrested over alleged links to the coup under a two-year state of emergency which ended last year.
But nationwide raids by police have continued and there are almost daily reports of public prosecutors issuing detention warrants for suspects over Gulen ties.
Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted, according to justice ministry figures.
Twenty-six generals are among those on trial, including former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of former ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli, who since September has served as Turkey's ambassador to the Netherlands.
Another suspect is colonel Ali Yazici, Erdogan's former military aide, as well as Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan, who was the aide to then Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar. Akar was appointed defence minister in July 2018.
Of the suspects, 176 are in jail while 35 have been freed pending trial and 13 suspects including Gulen are still sought for arrest, according to Anadolu.
The prosecutor in May requested 12 unnamed suspects be acquitted and that the case of the 13 fugitives be separated from the main coup ringleaders' trial.
Dozens of those on trial are accused of being members of the "Peace At Home Council", the name the plotters apparently gave themselves on the night of the coup attempt.
The failed overthrow left 248 people dead, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.
Last month during a hearing, Ozturk told the court that claims he was a member of the council and a senior figure in the Gulen movement were "lies".
"For 34 months, I have tried to prove my innocence," Ozturk said. Many of the suspects during the two years of hearings have denied any links to Gulen or the coup.