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Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was a celebrated British playwright and Nobel laureate whose works deal with the subject of individuality and freedom, power struggles, domination and submission. In contrast to the ‘Merry Prankster’ Ken Kesey, Pinter was a serious intellectual and a work Human Rights Activist. Early on Pinter did not believe in expressing his political views in his works of art however, during the 1980’s Pinter adopted a more public stance on political issues; he took on positions in a number of political organizations, both national and international and his works took on a more political tone (Ford & Pinter).

In the 1980’s there was a widespread fear among British intellectuals that the government of Margaret Thatcher had started a process of gradually restrict the freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the freedom of Information of the citizens of the country through censorship and control of the mass-media (Grimes).

Harold Pinter too, was one of the British intellectuals who were opposed to the policies of the Thatcher regime. He believed that the Thatcher government was threat to minorities and dissenters and was gradually and insidiously “turning a stronger and stronger vice on democratic institutions” (Ford & Pinter).

In modern day Kemalist Turkey, Pinter could see the end result of Thatcherite policies. The Turkish government engaged in suppression of the freedom of expression, especially targeting those that it considered threats to the existing order. These threats included the Kurdish ethnic minority. The Turkish government like many other right wing governments pursued a policy of forced acculturation of the Kurds, trying to separate the Kurds from their language, their culture and their history (Grimes).

Pinter accompanied Arthur Miller on a trip to Turkey in 1985 and was struck with the tyrannical cultural policies of the Turkish government; sending a Kurdish scholar to prison for the crime of publishing a book on the history of the Kurds (Ford & Pinter).

On his trip, Pinter also encountered people who had undergone torture in the prisons of Turkey. The wife of one union leader he met, who had been tortured in prison, had been so mentally disturbed after seeing her husband in his tortured state in prison that she stopped speaking altogether and though her husband was out of prison, she still could not speak. Pinter was struck by this image of a person being rendered mute by witnessing torture and it forms one of the most memorable features of Mountain Language (Ford & Pinter).

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