The friends from Turkey worked together on a play Mi Minor, which they described as providing a “unique theatrical experience” where the audience could take part in person and online.
The Turkish authorities claimed the “controversial” play was a “civil coup plot”. They received death and rape threats.
Both were forced to flee the country and they came to Wales. Meltem said she hasn’t been back to Turkey since and “couldn’t even go to [her] husband’s funeral”.
After that loss, she walked the coast of Wales over a period of six months. because she wanted to be alone and described how “nature helped [her]”. They both said they felt an instant “sense of belonging” and have embraced Welsh culture.
They said they would like to recreate the play here in Wales and possibly Russia.
Meltem received the Freedom of Thought and Speech Award 2004 from the Turkish Publishers Association.
The event was in association with Wales PEN Cymru.
If you are interested in more events like this, please also see Event 387 at 5.30pm on Sunday 2 June.
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Pictured left to right: Dylan Moore (chair), Meltem Arikan and Memet Ali Alabora
Picture by Chris Athanasiou