Free Sevan Nişanyan

Note added July 17, 2018: Sevan Nişanyan is now free, in the sense of having escaped from prison—an open prison—and from Turkey. The story is told well in an article by Lauren Frayer on NPR, September 28, 2017. Alev Scott visited Sevan on the Greek island of Samos and wrote about it in the Times Literary Supplement, July 4, 2018; the article is behind a paywall, but there’s a free version. The friends and colleagues mentioned at the beginning of my own essay are not currently under detention, though trials of them and others continue. My essay remains as an expression of the value of freedom of speech.

We want freedom for our friends and colleagues who are being held in pre-trial detention for their supposed support of terrorism through advocating peace.

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

We want freedom for ourselves: to pursue our thoughts, to share them and have them be criticized, to defend them as they seem to call for defense, and otherwise to change them.

Peacock, İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

İlyastepe, Şirince, May 2013

We must not forgot one whose speech and thought is being suppressed through selective enforcement of building codes.

Nesin Mathematics Village. Nişanyan Library on the right, Philosophy School on the left. January 21, 2016

Nesin Mathematics Village, Nişanyan Library on the right, Philosophy School on the left, January 21, 2016

Sevan Nişanyan constructed the Nesin Mathematics Village, my favorite place in Turkey, which I visit at least once a year, often more, most recently in January.

Sevan Nişanyan wrote Sözlerin Soyağacı: Çağdaş Türkçenin Etimolojik Sözlüğü (Adam Yayınları, 2007, ISBN 975-418-868-4), an etymological dictionary of contemporary Turkish, which I keep within arm’s reach of my desk at home, and frequently consult.

Müjde and Sevan Nişanyan wrote Ankara’nın Doğusundaki Türkiye // Eastern Turkey (Boyut Yayınları. 2006 ISBN 975-23-0196-7), a delightful bilingual travel guide that has illuminated my own visits to the east of Turkey.

Müjde and Sevan created Nişanyan Hotel, where my wife and I have stayed with great pleasure.

İlyastepe (Nişanyan Hotel), May 2013

Breakfast at İlyastepe (Nişanyan Hotel), May 2013

Sevan likes to be controversial. Big fucking deal. I say that with irony. You don’t like the way somebody else thinks or writes? Deal with it in your own thinking and writing. Argue with it. Do not use your temporal power to suppress it. It’s simple. Sevan should not be in prison. Like Socrates at his own trial, Sevan deserves a reward instead.

For international distribution, Ali Nesin composed the following about Sevan’s imprisonment:

You may have heard that my old friend Sevan Nisanyan has been in jail for almost two and a half years now.

Sevan Nisanyan is a linguist, a writer, and a tourism professional, and apart from putting Şirince on the tourist map he is also the architect of the Mathematics Village. However, he is being forced to live in terrible conditions in Turkish prisons, where he is not being permitted to continue his scientific work.

Sevan is a Turkish citizen of Armenian origin, who not only knows his country from coast to coast but also strives to show it to others. Because of his eclectic, intellectual and eccentric personality and pitilessly sharp pen, Sevan was trapped in a long judicial process under the guise of being judged him for breaking unjustified construction laws.

He has accumulated a prison sentence of 15 years from the lawsuits filed against him so far. From the lawsuits which have not yet reached a verdict it looks probable that his sentence will reach 25 years.

We strongly wish that this injustice carried out against Sevan be repaired as soon as possible so that he can freely return to his work. We have knocked on every door for help in this matter, without success, whereupon we decided to start a petition for his release. Your support in signing the petition and also in publicising the matter to bring it into the international public eye would be extremely important to us, and more importantly to Sevan.

He is a 60-year-old scientist who is losing hope of ever being able to leave prison and regain his freedom after such an absurdly long prison sentence. We cannot let this happen. We hope you will lend us your support.

For more information [dead link, or blocked in Turkey?]

To sign the petition [“Petition Closed / This petition had 26,750 supporters”]

Hodri Meydan Tower, Şirince, May 2013

Hodri Meydan Tower, Şirince, May 2013

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Şirince January 2018 « Polytropy on February 4, 2018 at 4:54 am

    […] first visit was now, and she was in awe. Bahadır and I took Sevde to see the sea view and Sevan Nişanyan’s nearby Lycian-style tomb—currently empty, and the intended occupant, having escaped […]

  2. By Şirince 2014 « Polytropy on February 13, 2019 at 6:30 pm

    […] government attacks would be more newsworthy. Unfortunately the mastermind behind this idea is now in prison—caught for now in the web of the […]

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