ISTANBUL (Aravot) — On September 23, the Cezayir complex in Istanbul hosted the ceremony awarding Istanbul-based Armenian intellectual, philologist, writer and publicist Sevan Nisanyan’s family the William Saroyan Medal of the Diaspora Ministry. Renowned political, public and cultural figures were invited, including Turkish lawmaker Selina Dogan with her husband Erdal Dogan, President of “Anadolu Kültür” foundation Osman Kavala, Ufuk Uras, Armenian representative of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Arsen Avagyan. The event was moderated by journalist Hrant Gasparian.
Nisanyan was handed a cumulative jail sentence of 16 years and 7 months after making the fatal mistake of using mocking language about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, in a blog entry on September 2012. He has been held in a maximum-security Turkish prison since January 2, 2014. He will not be eligible for parole until 2024.
The event covered several speeches, among others, also Selina Dogan and Nisanyan’s lawyer, Ergin Cinmen. Member of Parliament and president of the Veradardz Foundation, Aragats Akhoyan handed the medal to the lawyer.
Cinmen mentioned in his speech that Nisanyan is the only person who was accused of allegedly carrying out illegal construction, while the true reasons are different, he was convicted of being a courageous Armenian. He emphasized that not only the country’s Minister of Justice is responsible for the imprisonment of Nisanyan but also the highest instances and the human rights activists.
Since Nisanyan’s mother, Sona Nisanyan, was unable to physically attend the event, she had sent a video message. She expressed her joy and regret: “I wish he were with us this day.”
On this day, in defense of Sevan Nisanyan , also messages were sent by Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, and historian Dr. Tessa Hofmann.