Latest news

New Honorary Member of PEN Melbourne

August 13, 2021 IN WIP
Share this

 

Nedim’s story

Nedim Türfent is a Kurdish journalist and poet. He was imprisoned in 2016 after publicising police harassment of workers in south-east Turkey.

Jackie Mansourian, Co-convenor of PEN Melbourne’s Writers-in-Prison program, explains how Nedim Türfent became an Honorary Member of PEN Melbourne:

In January 2020 Nedim Türfent wrote his first card to us. We were moved by his compassion and concern about the bushfires at that time: ‘I’m so sorry about [the] massive forest fires in Australia. Please feel my aching heart. Thank you for your letters. We are at one-heart’.

Later that year, PEN Melbourne members wrote cards to him during our annual card-writing gathering. As I wrote, I reflected on his circumstances. He had been in imprisoned since the age of 26 and the first two years were in solitary confinement. I have children of the same age. I thought of them. The pain of imagining them, like Nedim, being treated with such cruelty and disregard was unbearable. I told him that we knew of his circumstances, and were committed to working for his freedom.

Nedim replied personally to everyone who wrote to him. We were touched and challenged by this response, and made the commitment to invite Nedim to be a PEN Melbourne Honorary Member. Nedim has accepted our invitation. This means that PEN Melbourne will work purposefully and with many others, for his release. We will also help amplify awareness of his writings. Whilst in prison he has written a collection of poetry in Turkish, Kuş Aynası. Imagine the small mirror that people with budgerigars put in the cage for the birds’ own self-entertainment.

‘The Soul and the Beast,’ published here, has been translated from Nedim’s collection by Turkish-Australian poet, Hidayet Ceylan. Full details, including the original text in Turkish, are available at penmelbourne.org. It has been a complex process of dialogue about the translation, as we discuss the meanings and interpretations, without the presence and affirmation of the poet himself. Please read the poem, find out about Nedim’s circumstances, join our work for Nedim, and write to him in solidarity.

“Kendi iblislerimiziz, kendimizi cennetimizden ediyoruz.”

“We are our own devils; we are expelling ourselves from our heaven”

                                                                                                                                                                        Goethe

 

CAN VE CANAVAR

THE SOUL AND THE BEAST

Kimim ben

Who am I?

Bir dünya rengim var, sesim, dilim

I have a world of colours, voices, languages

Türlü türlü huyum…

And all sorts of natures…

Mazlum da benim, zalim de

I am the oppressor and the oppressed

ölen de, öldüren de…

I am the murdered and the murderer…

Tut kelin perçeminden!

Grab the curly hair of the bald man.

 

Ben Oblomov kadar tembel

I am as lazy as Oblomov

Kozet kadar sefil, pejmürde

I am as miserable and shabby as Kozet

Dewrêşê Ewdî kadar fedakarım.

I am as self-sacrificing as Dewrêşê Ewdî.

Harikalar Diyarı’nda Alice’im

I am Alice in Wonderland

Kimi zaman Don Kişot olurum

I sometimes become Don Quixote

Kimi zaman Boby Sands,

Sometimes Bobby Sands,

Ama bir yanım hep çocuktur

But one side of me is always a child

Şeker Portakalı’ndaki Zeze kadar yaramazdır

And as naughty as Zeze in My Sweet Orange Tree

Bir yanım da olgundur,

Another side of me is mature,

Kürek mahkumu Kelebek kadar

Persistent, determined. A combatant.

İnatçı, azimli ve mücadeleci…

Like Papillon and the galley slave…

 

Riyad’da burka giyerim zoraki,

I wear the burqa by force in Riyadh

Kiev’de Femen olurum.

I become Femen in Kiev

Kanberra’da anamın rahminden kurtulur

I am freed from my mother’s womb in Canberra

Moskova’da beşik beşik yatarım…

I sleep in many cradles in Moscow…

Dubai’de adımbaşı gökdelenlerde, Kore’deki bir kafeste,

I live in sky scrapers on every corner in Dubai, in a cage in Korea

Budapeşte’de tarihle iç içe, Saraybosna’da yeraltında,

I am embedded with history in Budapest, in underground shelters in Sarajevo

Amazon ormanlarının derinliğinde yaşarım…

I live deep in the Amazon jungle…

Dublin’de kütüphane ve müze,

I wander the library and museum in Dublin,

Sana’da mezar mezar dolaşırım!

each of the graves in Sana’a

Tokyo’da bir yüzyıl yaşarım, bir asır,

I live as old as one hundred years, a century in Japan

Bağdat’ta ergenliği görsem, ne mutlu bana!

If I reach adolescence in Baghdad, how happy I am!

 

Bir yanım şairdir, beriki katil, asker,

One part of me is a poet, another part is a murderer, a soldier

Para babasıyım New York’ta

I am filthy rich in New York

Burada proleterya, şurada parya

Here the proletariat, there the pariah

Yoksul ve yoksunum…

I am poor and I am deprived….

Kapitalistim ve komüncü

I am a capitalist and I am a communist

Katalonya’da devrimci, Madrit’te statükocuyum.

I am a revolutionary in Catalonia, defend the status quo in Madrid

Glasgow’da saksafon çalarım, yaşım 60,

I play saxophone in Glasgow, I am 60 years old

Kabil’de ekmek çalarım yaşım 6!

I steal bread in Kabul and I am 6 years old!

Anlayacağınız

As you can see

Ottawa’da obeziteden

I die from obesity in Ottawa

Mogadişu’da açlıktan ölürüm…

from hunger in Mogadishu…

 

Buenos Aires’te Plaza de Mayo annesiyim;

I am a mother of Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires

Latin Amerika’da bir gerillayım

I am a guerilla in Latin America

Uzak Doğu’da bilim insanıyım

I am a scientist in the Far East

Yakın Asya’da ilim ve irfan…

Knowledge and wisdom bearer in the Near East…

Adımı ister Sofie koyun,

Whether you name me Sophie,

İsterseniz Mefisto, ya da Sysphus;

Or Mephisto, or Sisyphus;

Yüreğim bazen Mirabel kardeşlerini kadar kocamandır.

My heart is sometimes as big as the Mirabal sisters.

İstanbul’da Hrant Dink gibi tedirgin olurum.

I become as anxious as Hrant Dink in İstanbul.

Auschwitz’deki adımı sorarsanız, Elie Wiesel.

If you ask my name in Auschwitz, it is Elie Wiesel.

Kobanêli Aylan Kurdî’yim, denizin kıyısına değil

I am Aylan Kurdi from Kobane, I have not hit the shore 

Nasır tutan vicdanınıza tokat gibi vurulmuşum

My dead body has slapped your calloused conscience

 

Christchurch’te fanatik bir dinci vuruyor beni,

A fanatic fundamentalist shoots me in Christchurch,

Suriye’de F bilmem-ne-tipi savaş uçağı…

An F-whatever type of fighter jet in Syria…

Firavunun pençesinde bir Filistinli

I am a Palestinian under the claw of a Pharaoh

Führer’in toynaklarında bir Yahudiyim.

I am a Jew under the hooves of Führer.

Fakat Firavun da benim, Führer de!

I am both Pharaoh and Führer!

Demokles’in kılıcını da ben taşırım, Brutus de benim.

I carry the sword of Damocles, I am Brutus as well.

Zorba ve tiranım bazı bazı

From time to time I am a despot and a tyrant

Tokmak elimde, silah belimde

Hammer in my hand and gun on my belt

İşgal ve ilhak ederim

I invade and annex   

Sözümona demokrasi ve özgürlük taşırım

I carry a so-called freedom and democracy

Esasında kolonilerde teröristler yaratırım…

In fact, I create terrorists in the colonies…

 

Pekin’de çekik gözlüyüm

I am Chinese in Beijing 

Akra’da kapkara…

I am African in Accra…

Kızılderiliyim beyaz tenli.

I am First Nations in America.

Erivanlıyım, Rojavalıyım, Myanmarlıyım…

I am from Yerevan, I am from Rojova, I am from Myanmar…

Maorice ve Kürtçe konuşurum

I speak Maori and Kurdish

Ruanda’daki dilimi Fransa’ya sorun!

Ask France my language in Rwanda!

Dört bir tarafta ben varım, yerde ve gökte.

I am present at every corner, on the ground and in the sky.

Hollywood ile Bollywood arasında mekik dokurum.

I travel back and forth between Hollywood and Bollywood

Tüm canlıların tanrı ve tanrıçasıyım!

I am the God and Goddess of all living beings!

Ulusu, devleti yoktan var ederim,

I create the Nation and the State from nothing,

O gelip beni vardan yok eder…

They come and exterminate my existence…

 

Sadist ve narsistim, isim günüm meçhul

I am a sadist and narcissist, my name is obscure

Kilise, camii ve sinagogdan çıkar

As I leave the church, mosque and synagogue

Hades’in müdavimi, Nirvana’nın yolcusu olurum…

I am inured to Hades, I enter the path to Nirvana…

Duvarlarınıza çarpan bir mülteciyim

I am a refugee crashing your walls

Kim Phuc çıplaklığında koşarım barbarlıktan…

I escape the barbarism in the nakedness of Kim Phuc…

Geleceğin savunucusu Greta Thunberg

I become Greta Thunberg, the defender of the future

Yaşamın koruyucusu Nadya Murad olurum…

Nadya Murad, the protector of life…

İsviçre’ye yurttaş adayıyım,

I am a candidate for citizenship to Switzerland,

Ülkemin kirpikleri yaşlı ve kanlı…

The eyelashes of my country awash with blood and tears…

Kan akıtan, cana kıyan da benim…

I am the one who sheds blood and murders…

Can da, canavar da benim…

I am both the soul and the beast…

 

Bir avuç soğuk su çal yüzüne,

Splash a handful of cold water on your face,

Kimim ben?

Who am I?

Yeryüzünde cennetle cehennemi birlikte var eden,

I am the one who creates the Heaven and Hell on Earth together

Aydınlığın ve karanlığın bekçisiyim!

I am the gate-keeper of the light and the darkness!

İnsanım ben, insanın ta kendisiyim…

I am a human being, I am the human being…

İçim dışım çelişki, ne yaman çelişki.

My interior, my exterior is a contradiction, such a thorough contradiction.

Nedim’i mektupsuz, selamsız bırakmayalım!

Do not leave Nedim without a letter and without a greeting!

Nedim Türfent
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
A-44
VAN – TÜRKİYE

The poem is available as a broadsheet pdf here:

nedim_broadsheet6


 

 

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 . . .

 

This pencil is one of the stories on which the vice of persecution tested its teeth. In 2015 in Y¸ksekova, a town smack on the borders of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, Turkish special forces made a group of Kurdish construction workers lie naked on the ground and shouted, ‘You will see the strength of the Turk!’ I relayed this infamy and an inquiry was opened against these policemen. But shortly thereafter, the voice of revenge reached my ears. Attacks using tear gas, rubber bullets, surveillance, aggressions, death threats, then arrest, torture during custody and, finally, on 13 May 2016, incarceration. . . All of the 19 witnesses for the prosecution described torture while in custody . . . one of the witnesses declared: ‘the policemen told me: if you don’t sign this document, we will pull out your teeth with pliers.’

 

Please, consider this open letter as ‘representative’ of situations. In this framework, justice is demanded for all. In solidarity and with the pencil’s resistance, before its lead is broken.

 

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
www.kedistan.net/2021/05/03/nedim-turfent-open-letter-injustice

 

 

Write to Nedim
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu
A-44 VAN – TURKEY


June 27, 2021

PEN Melbourne is proud to have Nedim Türfent as our Honorary Member.

We have recently received confirmation from Nedim from his prison in Van, Turkey, and through the broader PEN International network, that he welcomes his membership to PEN Melbourne.

Nedim is a journalist, editor and poet.

He was detained in May 2016 after reporting on Turkish special forces’ ill-treatment of Turkish and Kurdish workers, in south-east Turkey. He published footage of this treatment and immediately began receiving death threats from the police and became the target of online harassment. He was detained in solitary confinement. He was 26 years old. Ten months later he was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’.

In his trial beginning in June 2017, he was denied the right to appear in court physically.  However, 19 of the 20 prosecution witnesses retracted their statements, saying they had been extracted under torture. In December, 2017 he was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison. This verdict has been upheld twice. But Nedim’s lawyers have appealed further.

While waiting for his appeal, Nedim has been studying, English, German and writing poetry.

He is also a generous writer of letters. During PEN Melbourne’s end- of- year card writing to imprisoned writers in December 2020, many members wrote to Nedim. He has since written cards in return to each writer, in gratitude, and with powerful messages that affirm ‘freedom for words’.

If you would like to join PEN Melbourne’s actions in solidarity with Nedim, please contact us at wip@penmelbourne.org

And join the call for Nedim Türfent’s release on social media – #FreeNedim

One of Nedim’s first poems translated into many languages

Let my heart give life –  Nedim Türfent

Your heart has become the earth
let it give elixir into the veins
bring fertility to the soil
from the springs behind the mountain Qaf.
let the benevolence of the crops
be the silver key to life.
let your heart soothe
the farmer
the peasant
the day laborer
the distressed

let it massage the broken wings of birds
with ointments
let it grant refuge
to the ants, working collectively, in solidarity
let heart fill with generosity
giving butterflies an extra day of life
let it be a lifeline
like the womb   

let your heart be crystal clear
as clear as water
let it give life to the lifeless.

 

Translation by Barış Altıntaş, Media and Law Studies Association (MSLA)

https://pen-international.org/news/let-my-heart-give-life-english

 

 

First published here: https://medyavehukuk.org/en/800-days-behind-bars-nedim-turfent-van-prison

 

———————————————————————————————————————-
Nedim Türfent

New Honorary Member of PEN Melbourne

PEN Melbourne has nominated imprisoned Kurdish writer Nedim Türfent as an Honorary Member, and we are pleased that Nedim has accepted.

Nedim Türfent is a journalist and poet currently imprisoned in Turkey. In December 2017, more than 18 months after his arrest, Türfent was handed an eight-year-and-nine-month prison sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges. He has now spent more than 1,500 days in detention.  Naming Nedim as an honorary member means that PEN Melbourne will energetically prosecute his case and continue our correspondence with him.

If you would like to join our work with Nedim Türfent please contact our Writers in Prison Team.

PEN Melbourne members have written to Nedim on several occasions since his arrest, and we have received spirited and enthusiastic replies written from his prison cell. Here is a letter we received earlier this year.

—————————————————————————————————

TURKEY: ACTION Write to Selahattin Demirtaş

International PEN Melbourne Centre

ACTION

TURKEY

WRITE to Selahattin Demirtaş, a writer in prison

Throughout the year PEN Melbourne members and friends write to persecuted writers in prison around the world.

We send our best wishes, and our hopes that they are staying well and in good spirits.

We do this in the spirit of solidarity and to let them know that they are not alone and not forgotten.

We try by this means to allow a light into their lives in prison.

The letters are not political, but a gesture of friendship and a way of connecting across the cultural divides.

 

Send a letter to show solidarity with prominent Kurdish politician and writer Selahattin Demirtaş.

Writer and opposition politician Selahattin Demirtaş turned 48 on Saturday 10 April – the fifth birthday he has spent behind bars and away from his loved ones.

Demirtaş has been held in pre-trial detention for over four years, on dubious terrorism charges. The European Court of Human Rights twice ruled for his release, to no avail.

It is time that Turkey abides by its obligations under international law and release Demirtaş once and for all.

 

Backround information:

Former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş was arrested on 4 November 2016 on dubious terrorism charges. The Turkish authorities have so far failed to implement a landmark ruling of the European Court of Human Rights issued in November 2018, which found his detention to be politically motivated and ordered his immediate release – a call reiterated by the Court’s Grand Chamber in December 2020.

PEN International calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Please send messages of solidarity to:

Mr Selahattin Demirtaş

Edirne F Tipi CİK B1-38

EDİRNE

TURKEY

 

We encourage anyone with a love of writing and literature to join PEN Melbourne. We are an entirely voluntary and not-for-profit organisation and our members sustain and bring vitality to our work.

Subscribe for news & updates from PEN Melbourne.

People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International