As part of PEN International’s annual Day of the Imprisoned Writer, Ai Weiwei writes to imprisoned artist Zehra Doğan in Turkey.
Dear Zehra Doğan,
I received word of your imprisonment under the Turkish authorities. Although I come from an authoritarian society where freedom of speech is limited, it came as a shock to hear that an artist was imprisoned for making a painting reflecting the reality of today. If a state can sentence an artist, journalist, or writer in such a fashion then we are truly living in a dark age where no ideas or creativity can be protected and flourish. Such a society cannot possibly cope with today’s condition where knowledge and ideas are freely exchanged all over the world, where open discussions and criticism are absolutely necessary for a functioning democracy. Only societies that protect freedom of speech and expression can meet the challenges presented by globalization and have any chance of a positive future.
People have paid a price in the struggle for freedom of speech and expression, which is unfortunate but also necessary. I am impressed by your work and I wish you well. I hope the Turkish government understands the wrongful action they have taken towards artists, journalists, writers and professors and release all prisoners of conscience. I call for your immediate and unconditional release.
Take action for Zehra Doğan here.