Play writer Bhatti in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times International News Network’s Editor -in Chief, Hatef Mokhtar
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti is a British Sikh writer. She has written extensively for stage, screen and radio. Her first play Behsharam (Shameless) broke box office records when it played at Soho Theatre and the Birmingham Rep in 2001. Her play Behzti won the ‘Susan Smith Blackburn Prize’ for the best English language play written by a woman in 2005.
Play writer Bhatti in an exclusive interview with The Oslo Times International News Network’s Editor -in Chief, Hatef Mokhtar, spoke about the human rights, women rights and freedom of education to the women and message through her play in general.
Excerpts below give us an insight into the interesting talk that followed:
Please tell us something about you.
I am Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, a British playwright whose parents had migrated to the United Kingdom in the late 60s.
What does human right mean to you?
Human rights to me means the opportunity to write, to make up a human being, to live freely, to exercise my own will, to live with dignity, to live with choice, perhaps with basic humanity, to have right to being, to have my freedom of expression, to be with whom I want to live with, to have freedom for myself and to be who I am.
What do you think about World Women conference?
I think it’s an extraordinary gathering of women and men from all over the world who have a multitude of experiences. I am learning and have been inspired by peoples story so much. It’s a privilege to be here to meet with the people and to share stories and experiences.
What do you think about women’s rights especially in the South Asian countries?
You don’t have to look very far, certainly with stories that I have heard here. There is a huge amount of oppression of women in the country. Oppression in terms of freedom to educate themselves, oppression in the family, oppression of their sexuality and oppression of them as citizens. In lots of those countries, which are all very different and have different challenges, women are not equal and that is a horrific thing to be saying in the 2015.
Tell us about your professional activities and the projects that you are working on presently.
I have written a lot for the theater, film, and radio in the UK. I have recently written a play for Royal Court Theater in London and presently writing a new play for the National Theater along with writing for the show called the Art show. My collection with freedom of expression really began ten years ago with my play Behzti. It is a story about sexual abuse in a Sikh temple. Some members of the Sikh community reacted and protested against it. There were riots and safety of the theatergoers and their cars could not be guaranteed forcing the playing to shut down. My life was threatened; I went into hiding along with police protection.
What is dictatorship or dictatorial regime?
Obviously it depends where it is but I cannot agree with that. The word itself is eliminating choice and taking away freedom.
What is human right to you?
As I said in the beginning, the right to be a human being, with humanity, dignity and the choice to be free.
How do you define women?
A women is a female human being with no different from man, should have the same choice, freedom and life opportunities.
Extremism is obviously not a good thing, but as artist or activists, we certainly have to ask ourselves why people are drawn to extremism and what is the power of that message? Lots of people, especially young men, find it very attractive message that can give people lot of short term sort of cover.
Lots of journalists and human rights activists are jailed by totalitarian regimes across the world. As an artist, what is your message for those regimes and those imprisoned journalists?
We stand with you, though we cannot take away your pain or sufferings, your huge struggles help us in our struggles on a daily basis. You are our inspiration and we salute you. I believe the truth will not let you down, it will set you free and as an artist or a campaigner you should be as authentic as you can in bringing out the truth. We live in a society in a world where truth tellers and whistle blower are actively shut down and silenced but they cannot get away from truth. The system will ultimately change and will break down because freedom will ultimately overcome repression, as human instincts always want to be free.
What do you think about arrange marriage?
I think if two people want to have an arranged marriage in consensus that is completely fine, that is up to them. I think an arranged marriage is very different from a forced marriage, as a forced marriage is completely against somebody’s human rights.
What is religion for you?
I am a Sikh, I have faith and I have connection with god. Religion, in its current form, is about how its practiced. Ultimately you have to live life and treat people with humanity and dignity. It does not really matter whether you have religion or not.
It was horrific attack that killed 15 people. Charlie Hebdo did the right thing to come back with cartoons. However, I think instead of demonising an entire faith or an entire community, we have to use that situation to look deeper and ask questions, like why French born men carried out that attack out? We have question why are young man feeling like this and what has brought them to pursue hatred and horrendous act. It is up to us to ask these questions and to try and understand it actually.
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