Seven Nisanyan

Sevan Nisanyan Receives Asylum in Greece

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YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — Istanbul Armenian writer, linguist, journalist and intellectual Sevan Nisanyan, who escaped from a Turkish prison in July after serving 3.5 years in prison, in a recent interview, spoke about his future plans, situation in Turkey and other issues.

It was revealed this week that Nisanyan had applied for political asylum and received a temporary residence permit in Greece.

Nisanyan in the interview explained that he had not “escaped” prison so much as walked away and not returned. “I didn’t actually escape from prison. I was transferred in April to an open institution, a kind of work camp, where we were allowed to take a week off every three months. I went home and did not return. Getting out of the country was more exciting, but I am afraid I cannot say too much about that yet,” he said.

As for his decision to seek to make a life in Greece, he said, “I applied for political asylum in Greece and received a temporary residence permit. The final decision on the asylum application will be made by the Greek authorities in March 2018. I have always admired Greece and felt at home here. I hope to live in an Aegean island which is very close to my home in Sirinçe. We can actually see the island from the hills of my village.”

While Nisanyan said the situation facing the political and judiciary were “bad enough,” he said they were “not yet as bad as the old Soviet Union!”

He added, “Turkey is going through a period of madness. The political situation is frightful, the rule of law has collapsed. This of course affects everyone in the country, including, but not especially, the minorities. I know that the Armenian and especially the Jewish minorities are very worried, and very many of them have made plans to migrate to safer countries.”

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He added, “Turkey was always a very difficult country to govern; now the difficulties have multiplied beyond control. The country is fighting with virtually every other country in the world, but more importantly, it is at war with itself. The outcome of so much bad energy is difficult to predict. In any case, it looks like it will not be a happy outcome.”

Nisanyan said in the interview that while Turkish prisons are not enjoyable place, nor are they the pits of horror one may imagine.

“Turkish prisons are certainly not what they used to be 30 years ago. They are not at all like what you see in the film ‘Midnight Express.’ The buildings and infrastructure are quite modern, the personnel is reasonably well-trained and efficient, the regulations extremely detailed and mechanically applied. This makes the prisons psychologically more oppressive places than before. Total isolation and dehumanization may sometimes be worse than physical brutality,” he said.

“In three and a half years I changed eight institutions. I was treated very correctly on account of both my age and my social position. I was the only Armenian – the only non-Turk and non-Muslim in fact — everywhere I went. This never posed a problem. Most inmates thought this something exotic and interesting, and made a double effort to befriend and/or protect me. I believe the prison administrators were also under strict instructions to treat me correctly and to make sure there were no security issues,” he added.

He noted, “The bureaucracy of Turkey is an absurd and unreasonable mechanism, which lives in an insane world of dreams. If one understands its logic, he can easily play it on his fingers.”

While in prison, he wrote a book about the history of the Turkish language, as well as dialogue on religion and religions. He added, “In addition, I wrote short book from my letters to my little girl, Anahit, although I’m not sure if I want to publish it.”

Topics: Turkey

He added words of thanks to supporters in Armenia during his detention and expressed his hope to visit the country in 2018, presumably after he receives Greek citizenship.

“I would love to visit Armenia as soon as I am able to travel freely, which I hope will be in March 2018 or soon afterward. Many of my co-nationals in Armenia offered their friendship and support while I was in jail. I have many friends in Yerevan whom I would like to thank in person,” he said.

On August 1, it was announced by the government of Turkey that the list of buildings that are subjected to demolition in the Sirinçe village of Turkey’s Izmir province includes Nisanyan’s house, as well as two buildings belonging to the Nesin Foundation which has been formed by Nisanyan and scholar Ali Nesin, t24.com.tr reports. A decision was made to demolish 95 small hotels, 22 resorts and houses in the village which have been declared illegal with an explanation on contradicting to the development plan.

(Reports from news.am and Armenpress were used in compiling this story.)