Sevan Nishanian shares story of imprisonment following prison break

Istanbul-Armenian writer and journalist Sevan Nishanian has shared the story of his 3.5-year sentencing in Turkish jails and his escape on his blog.

“On 2 January 2014, I was jailed in the open regime prison in Torbali. The open regime prison is relatively calm, but you are forced to live next to several hundreds of people with a horrifying low level of education and horrifying moral values. You are forced to tolerate the insults and humiliation of the administration, which is almost at the same level of those several hundreds of people,” writes Nishanian.

The author goes on to talk about how his line of conduct was not approved by the prison’s administration and how he was transferred to a closed regime prison a month later. At the closed regime prison in Buja, the renowned intellectual and 120 prisoners share a cell designed for 40 people. Later, he is transferred to the closed regime prison in Shakran where he spends a month with an estate owner of Diyarbakir sentenced to 56 years in prison for mass murder and his accomplice in the same cell.

In July 2014, Nishanian is transferred to the Yenipazar Closed Prison in Aydin where he has the opportunity to be in a free cell for one person and use a computer and Internet for 5 days (6 hours each day). For 14 months, he works on his dictionary and examines hundreds of Turkish and Ottoman sources. In that period, the trial over the case of the intellectual continues and the sentencing is increased, going from 11 to 17 years.

After being transferred to the open regime prison in Syoke in August 2015, Nishanian is granted the right to a one-week leave. The second of those leaves coincides with his birthday. “I decided to throw a party with my friends and relatives. Out of nowhere, a dancer appeared, and a journalist, who was there for no reason, immediately took a photo of us. A person, who has no reason to live, enlarged the photo and published it in a corner of a newspaper,” Nishanian says.

A couple of weeks after that, Nishanian is “caught” using a computer in prison and loses Internet connection. Later, he is transferred once again to a closed regime prison and receives several disciplinary sanctions. In March 2016, he is transferred to the closed prison in Menemen where he saves himself from depression by working on a book of letters devoted to his younger daughter, Anahit.

Due to legislative amendments made in February 2017, on 25 March, the Armenian intellectual is transferred to the open regime prison in Foca. “Compared to the previous prisons, here it was very calm and comfortable. I was not bothered much, and of course, I took advantage of this. I even obtained a bike to move freely and became known as the first convict with a bike in the history of the Republic of Turkey,” the author writes.

Eventually, Nishanian loses patience. He realizes that nobody is going to release him. Moreover, new criminal cases are being instigated and the sentencing was being increased for this or that statement that he had made on television or radio years ago.

“In reality, two years ago, it was already clear that this was how the end was going to be. Back in December 2015, I was ready to escape, but my friends urged me to wait a while, be patient and prepare well…However, it was all in vain. In reality, if you want to take a drastic step, you should never listen to the advice of smart people. To take a drastic step, you need to be crazy and not think about the beginning and end,” writes Nishanian, reported At the end, Nishanian thanks all people who are near and far, familiar and unfamiliar for supporting him in any way throughout the entire period of imprisonment and during his escape.

Scroll Up