Fatoş İrwen is an artist and teacher from Diyarbakır, Turkey who was imprisoned in 2016. Her charges are based on evidence provided by an anonymous witness in relation to a protest she attended in 2013. She was taken into custody while trying board an internal flight in Turkey, unaware of the nature of charges made against her. She was eventually charged with “resisting the police, opposition to the law against demonstrations and assemblies, propaganda for a terrorist organization, belonging to a terrorist organization” and sentenced to two years in prison.
Fatoş İrwen, was born and raised in the Sûr neighborhood of Diyarbakır. She attended Dicle University. After receiving her diploma, she began teaching in Batman, in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. She later continued her art and teaching career in Diyarbakır.
After struggling to get access to art materials, İrwen was able to produce works in prison. However, Artist at Risk (AR)’s sources have explained that Irwen is imprisoned in the same jail were hunger strikes are being held by prisoners in support for Kurdish leader Öcalan. Especially the case of the ex-MP of HDP is internationally known. Some of the strikers have already died there, and a state of heightened anxiety reigns in the complex. Reports suggest that Irwen’s health is in a fragile state, and in her last communications she has been increasingly wary of censorship of her letters.
Fatoş İrwen is due to be released in 7 months. Unlike Zahra Dogan, whose case was made famous by Banksy, İrwen’s case is not known internationally. Artists at Risk (AR) seeks to bring attention to this artists predicament. In the meantime she faces harsh prison conditions.