Sevan Nishanyan: I didn’t escape prison; I fled from Turkey

09:47 • 06.02.18



Sevan Nishanyan, a prominent Turkish-Armenian publicist, researcher and linguist who fled from prison last year to settle in Greece, says he took the bold step in order to be away from Turkey “which has turned into a mega-prison”.


In an interview with Tert.am, Nishanyan spoke about his future plans in the country. The publicist said he has now bought small houses in a Greek village to convert them to summer houses for visitors from Turkey, as well as other countries.

Mr Nishanyan you have been in freedom for seven months now. I would like you to first share a couple of words about yourself. What are you doing now?


I live in Samos, a beautiful island in the Aegean Sea. I always had a dream of acquiring a home for my old age in this island, and I am very glad that circumstances brought me here – if by unforeseen ways. I have now bought several ruined houses in an old village, hoping to convert them into a summer academy for visitors from Turkey and from the rest of the world.


After your flight from prison, you promised to speak about your adventure detail sometime in the future. Maybe it is now the time to do that. Will you give details on how you escaped?


I didn’t actually escape from prison. I escaped from Turkey, which is more or less the same thing, as Turkey has now become a mega-prison. An amazing number of people are scrambling to get out of it before the tyranny catches up with them, or before the country sinks deeper into chaos.


Getting out involved taking risks for myself and for my friends who made personal sacrifices to help me cross the sea. Giving out too many details may cause them unnecessary discomfort.


Mr Nishanyan, it was in that very period that also wrote;  “ The bird flew away: Same wishes to the remaining 80 million.” At the same time, you said you would come back one day. To “what kind of” Turkey you would like to come back. What is your opinion about the present-day Turkey?


For many years I, like many progressive friends of Turkey, tried to maintain and promote an optimistic outlook on the future of that tragically mismanaged country. I am sad to say that it is no longer possible to hold to that kind of optimism. The future looks bleak. I have little hope of being able to go back within my lifetime.


A combination of factors – an outrageously chauvinistic educational system, an extremely ignorant and morally bankrupt public service, a marginalized cultural elite – has driven the country into a fit of violent, destructive frenzy. One can only hope that both the Turkish nation and its neighbors come out of this crisis relatively unharmed.


In one of your statements you once said that if you were in Garo Paylan's place, you would immediately leave Turkey. Do you think there is anybody or anything that could keep Garo Paylan in Turkey to make him struggle on for that country's future.  Where do you think champions of justice are expected to get help from to continue their campaign in Turkey?


The only political movement in Turkey that remains relatively unaffected by the national madness is the Kurdish movement. It should be supported by all available means. Paylan is to be admired for his calm yet courageous stand within the HDP, the pro-Kurdish party.


What is your opinion about the Armenia-Turkey relations?  You know that the normalization process has entered into a deadlock. Armenia announced its intention to declare the bilateral protocols null and void by spring. Do you think it is the right response to Turkey's irresponsible policy?


I am afraid I am not at all qualified to advise Armenia on its foreign relations. In military terms, obviously, Armenia cannot face up to its two Turkish neighbors alone, so its security must depend on maintaining the support of Russia. I would also think it essential to work toward defusing the senseless hostility with your eastern neighbor – but how, I cannot tell.


What future do you predict in the relations between the two neighboring countries, which are far from being friendly?


 I hope that they will not be too bad.

 

 

 

 

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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