PEN Writers in Prison – Nedim Türfent


Recent PEN honorary member journalist and poet – Nedim Türfent

Excerpt from Nedim’s Open letter to the winds of injustice
Van Prison. 14 April 2021, 1,800th day of imprisonment:

‘Words fly by in my head. Meanwhile, I can barely put two syllables together. My pen has been becalmed for hours. The ink no longer flows, as if my pen had been weaned . . .   

‘I must tell you frankly that had I been told five years ago, ‘you will be held in prison for years, for having practiced alternative journalism,’ I would have moved along and laughed in your face. Never would I have imagined that the Law and our rights could be trampled this badly. Like a shuttle constantly moving backward and forward between acceptance and habituation, we are transformed into this object weaving the net we thought impossible, undoable. And that is the worst of it. Today we accept silently, as if they were ordinary, all these things that, no more than five years ago, would have set fire to the greatest of indignations. We collapse in our armchairs, settle into our echo chambers, and we wish a long life to the snake that does not strike us . . . ‘

photo by Con Pakavakis

In prison Nedim Türfent wrote ‘Kuş Aynası,’ a collection of poems published Sept 2021, Turkey by Aram Publishing. Access the English translation of ‘Sana dair izlerin peşinde’ (Following the Traces of You) from this collection, trans Caroline Stockford:

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International was set up in 1960 as a result of mounting concern about attempts to silence critical voices around the world. The WiPC is now staffed by a team of experts who monitor around 1,000 attacks on writers, journalists, editors, poets, publishers and others in any given year. These include long prison terms, harassment, threats, and murder.

PEN Melbourne: Writers in Prison 

Writers in Prison Convenors: Jackie Mansourian & Josephine Scicluna

For those of us who consider reading and writing an essential part of life, the idea that a writer, editor or publisher could be pressured, imprisoned, blacklisted or even murdered because of their work is a horrifying one. PEN Melbourne has an active programme of letter/email writing, events and publicity designed to increase international pressure on governments that persecute writers for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression. The keystone of our programme is our response to the PEN International Rapid Action Network. 

How to get involved 

There are many ways to become involved in PEN Melbourne’s work: volunteers are always needed to send letters in protest to governments that imprison writers. If you are interested in writing letters in support of writers in prison, please contact us. 

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