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Editor, poet, and honorary PEN member Nedim Türfent released from prison

November 30, 2022 IN WIP
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Dear friends,

I am absolutely thrilled to let you know that news editor, reporter, poet, and honorary PEN member Nedim Türfent has just been released from prison.

Here is our joint statement with MLSA welcoming his long-awaited freedom:

We shared the good news on our social media channels:

You can also find more pictures on MLSA’s twitter feed:

We will seek to speak with Nedim shortly to see what we can do to best support him now that he is out.

Such a happy day!

Aurélia Dondo| Europe Programme Coordinator | PEN International |

Türkiye: Editor, poet, and honorary PEN member Nedim Türfent released from prison

Tuesday 29 November 2022 – 10:15am

PEN International and the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA) welcome the release of news editor, reporter, and poet Nedim Türfent, who was arrested on 12 May 2016 and subsequently sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges. Türfent spent over 2400 days behind bars. He is an honorary member of English PEN and PEN Melbourne.

‘The PEN Community welcomes the long-awaited release of Nedim Türfent, although he should have never spent a single day in prison. His ordeal is a painful reminder of the difficult situation for freedom of expression in Türkiye and the hefty price writers and journalists are paying merely for speaking out. Today, as we celebrate Türfent’s freedom, we also remember all those still held in Türkiye for peacefully expressing their views. We once again urge the authorities to release them immediately and unconditionally,’ said Ma Thida, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

Exposing an unlawful treatment of civilians should have been awarded a journalism prize, it turned into a seven-year ordeal instead. However, we are proud that Nedim Türfent continued to write and create, showing that his imprisonment, which intended to silence him, did not achieve that end. We know we will continue to see this inspiring courage and we wholeheartedly welcome Nedim back to freedom,’ said Barış Altıntaş, Co-Chair of the Media and Law Studies Association (MLSA).

Background information

A news editor and reporter at the now-closed pro-Kurdish Dicle News Agency (DİHA), Nedim Türfent, 32, was detained on 12 May 2016 in Van, South-eastern Türkiye, shortly after reporting on special police forces’ ill-treatment of Kurdish workers. Soon after his video footage was released, Türfent began receiving death threats from the police and was the target of an online harassment campaign. He was formally charged with ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ one day after his arrest; the indictment was first produced 10 months later. He spent almost two years in solitary confinement in harrowing detention conditions.

Among the reasons listed in the indictment were Nedim Türfent’s social media posts, his news reporting and 20 concealed witness testimonies. His first hearing was held in Hakkari on 14 June 2017, some 200 km away from Van where he was being detained. He was denied the right to appear physically in court seven times, and instead testified via the judicial conferencing system SEGBİS, experiencing severe connection and interpretation issues. Out of the 20 witnesses called, 19 retracted their statements, saying they had been extracted under torture. MLSA provided Türfent with legal counsel and notably brought his detention and conviction before the European Court of Human Rights.

While in prison Nedim Türfent wrote ‘Kuş Aynası,’ a collection of poems published in September 2021 in Turkey by Aram Publishing.

PEN International and PEN Centres across the world have actively been campaigning for Nedim Türfent’s release, by notably sending appeals to the authorities, taking part in solidarity actions, and translating and promoting his poetry, amongst other things. In September 2022, the Assembly of Delegates of PEN International adopted a Resolution on the repression of Kurdish language and culture in Türkiye, which notably calls on the authorities to end the prosecution and detention of writers and journalists on the basis of the content of their writing – including in support of Kurdish language and culture – and to immediately release all those held for peacefully expressing their views, including Türfent.

PEN Centres wishing to send him a message should contact Aurélia Dondo, Europe Programme Coordinator:

For more information about PEN’s campaign for Nedim Türfent please click here.

For further details contact Aurélia Dondo at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 Fax +44 (0) 20 7405 0339 e-mail:

“… in my imagination, I am eyeball to eyeball with each of you…” – Nedim Türfent has been moved to a different prison. You’ll want to read his letter to his PEN friends here at PEN Melbourne
PEN Melbourne honorary member Nedim Türfent has been moved to a different prison. You’ll want to read his letter to his PEN friends here at PEN Melbourne, he is uplifted by this change and
looks forward to better things to come. 
He says, “After more than 6 years, I broke an egg, for instance. To break an egg is an act of freedom.”
You can write to Nedim, he’d love to hear from people:
Nedim Türfent
Karakogan K1 Tipi Kapalı Cezaevi
Karakogan/ Elazig

Nedim’s letter as a pdf:

Nedim letter Nov 2021


Today marks 2000 days behind bars for reporter and poet Nedim Türfent.

  1. Today marks 2000 days behind bars for reporter and poet Nedim Türfent. We urge his immediate and unconditional release and stand in solidarity with all the journalists unjustly imprisoned in Turkey #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


  1. Bugün, gazeteci ve şair Nedim Türfent’in parmaklıklar ardındaki 2000. günü. Nedim’in derhal ve koşulsuz tahliyesini talep ediyoruz ve Türkiye’de hukuksuzca hapsedilmiş tüm gazetecilerin yanında olduğumuzu yineliyoruz. #NedimTürfentİçinÖzgürlük #GazetecilikSuçDeğildir


  1. ‘Within solidarity, nothing is beyond our reach’ –so wrote journalist & poet Nedim Türfent in a postcard to our PEN Melbourne community. Despite the catalogue of judicial injustice against him, he remains in prison. Today marks 2000 days #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


  1. Nedim Türfent on accepting PEN Melbourne honorary membership: ‘Coming from the farthest point of borders,this honor has erased once and for all the borders that sovereigns are trying to put in between us’.Please write to Nedim via #PENWrites campaign

  1. In Turkey, the practice of holding journalists and writers in pre-trial detention is part of systematic, unjust and pervasive judicial harassment. The analysis of witness testimonies against Nedim Türfent are shown to have serious legal flaws. Today marks 2000 days behind bars. We urge his immediate and unconditional release and stand in solidarity with all the journalists unjustly imprisoned in Turkey #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


  1. Nedim was arrested and detained in solitary confinement for almost 10 months before his indictment. In his 2017 trial he was denied the right to appear in court physically. Today marks 2000 days behind bars


  1. ‘I thank PEN and all its members who empower my pen under these conditions of solitary confinement.’ 2000 days in prison today #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists

Write to Nedim via #PENWrites campaign


  1. Today marks 2000 days behind bars for Nedim Türfent. Send letters of solidarity to:

Nedim Türfent

Van Yüksek Güvenlikli

Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu

Koğuş A-44, Van,Turkey

OR #PENWrites campaign #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists

  1. 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:



  1. 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: Nedim Türfent. #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists
  2. Nedim Türfent, Kurdish journalist & poet, was imprisoned in 2016 after publicising police harassment of workers in south-east Turkey. Read his poem ‘Can ve canavar’ (The soul and the beast) trans. Hidayet Ceylan
  3. ‘Within solidarity, nothing is beyond our reach’ –so wrote Nedim Türfent in a postcard to PEN Melbourne.Despite the catalogue of judicial injustice against him, he remains in prison. Today marks 2000 days #FreeNedimTürfent #FreeTurkeyJournalists


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 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”





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!


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

The poem is available as a broadsheet pdf here:




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



Write to Nedim
Van Yüksek Güvenlikli Kapalı Ceza İnfaz Kurumu

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

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)



First published here:


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



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




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.

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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