Writer in Residence: Zehra Doğan

Thank you for this collective solidarity on behalf of prisoners… With all my heart I thank PEN International and all the PEN clubs.

Kurdish artist and journalist Zehra Doğan is the founding editor of the all-female news agency Jin News Agency (JİNHA), one of the many media outlets to have been closed in Turkey in the wake of the failed coup in 2016. Zehra herself was also among the many journalists to be arrested and imprisoned, serving almost three years in prison in Turkey on charges of ‘propagandising for a terrorist organisation’ in relation to her work. A key case of concern to PEN throughout her time in detention, Zehra was finally released from prison in February 2019.

Zehra arrived in London in March 2019, and in April won the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award for Arts. She dedicated the award to those still imprisoned in Turkey:

Turkey’s prisons are filled with artists, intellectuals and politicians because we reject these limits forced upon our freedom of expression and we will continue to reject them… Although they are trying to restrict our freedom of expression in the prisons through the books they refuse to give us and the letters they find ‘suspect’, there are countless inmates who have overcome this situation through their own productivity. I dedicate this prize to them.

You can read and watch her acceptance speech here.


Installation: Li Dû Man (Left behind)
21–25 May, 12.00–18.00
Tate Exchange, Bankside, 

Wars take away a lot from people. But sometimes they take away the people and leave their belongings behind. As a journalist covering the clashes in Kurdish cities in Turkey, 2015 – 2016, Zehra Dogan took the small objects she found in the debris, as testimony of a war no one was talking about. This installation tells the stories of those who fled, via what they left behind. It also invites you into a conversation and to participate in the crafting and performance of stories about place and displacement.

In partnership with Counterpoint Arts, Tate Exchange, The Open University and Index on Censorship, as part of Who Are We 2019.

We are grateful to our partners, and to Index on Censorship and the International Women’s Media Foundation, for their support for Zehra’s residency.

About Cat Lucas

Cat Lucas is English PEN's Writers at Risk Programme Manager

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