Turkey: Playwright and author exiled after death threats

In the days after the Gezi Park protests in 2013, Turkish playwright and author Meltem Arikan found herself at the centre of a government-led hate campaign that left her fearing for her life.


Arikan, now living in the United Kingdom, left Turkey because of the vicious and sustained campaign against her on social media and tv. She was subjected to a continuous barrage of brutal verbal abuse and rape and death threats. The attacks were fronted by Turkish politicians who accused her, and the people behind the production of her play Mi Minor, of being the architects of the Gezi Park demonstrations.

The campaign was targeted and persecutory, “like a witch hunt in the 15th century” and members of the public were encouraged by politicians to create Twitter accounts and join the action against her.

This was not the first time that the government had tried to silence her. Arikan’s 2004 novel Stop Hurting my Flesh tells the story of women’s lives that have been left devastated by experiences of sexual abuse and incest. The novel was banned by the government accusing it of “destroying the Turkish family order, offending the Namus (honour) of the society, arousing sexual desire in the readers and disturbing the order of society by inducing fear within women, by using a feminist approach.”

Arikan was interviewed by Index on Censorship Head of Arts Julia Farrington.

Read the interview: www.indexoncensorship.org

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