PEN & Paper Aeroplanes: Over the past few weeks we have been handing over the Elsewhere blog to a series of literary tributes from UK-based writers in solidarity with writers at risk around the World who are supported by English PEN. As they were added, all the tributes were collected together here. Today, for the final tribute, it is the turn of James Miller for Nedim Türfent:
Journalist Nedim Türfent published a video in which a Special Operations officer in Yüksekova, a province on the southeastern Turkish border with Syria, can be seen abusing Kurdish civilians lying on the floor, yelling racist remarks at them. He was detained on May 12, 2016 and sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison on Dec. 15, 2017 on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.” The poem below incorporates some of Nedim’s final tweets (translated from Kurdish) before he was detained.
January 24th, 2019
Nedim Türfent has now been in prison 985 days.
985 days is 140 weeks is 23640 hours.
985 days for opening a window to the truth,
For showing the reality of a situation,
For showing what is.
A ‘curfew’ was declared in the villages of Mezra, Geman and Mergan, in Zawite, Koprulu and Minyanis.
985 days ago, my daughter was not even a heartbeat on a scan,
Not even a blurred shape in the womb.
A life waiting to be conceived, waiting to be brought into the world.
In the last 2 days: 24 Kurds, including journalists and politicians, were arrested in Van, Antep, Isparta, Silopi, Khorasan, Amed and Idil. The last 1 month, how many?
Now, my daughter is eighteen months is 547 days old.
Eighteen months abundant with life, eyes open, smiling, inhabiting the world.
Eighteen months is 547 days of sleeping and not sleeping.
In Gever a "security" outpost under construction today. Concrete blocks brought in by trucks all day long.
Eighteen months. Time to go from milk to food,
New teeth happily munching muffins, sausages, pasta, cheese
A face smeared with yogurt and berries.
Eighteen months enough time to learn to say “more” and “no” and jiggle in her high chair.
And then throw the food on the floor.
The attack on the police station in Giresun killed police officer, Senior Sergeant Zafer Caliskan.
Eighteen months is 547 days.
Enough time for a wriggle to grow into a sit up and a turn over.
547 days is 13,128 hours.
Enough time for a turn over to become a crawl, head forward, bottom up, hands down moving with curious determined purpose.
Enough time for a crawl to become a stand, on wobbling, chubby little legs.
Arms outstretched, a giddy smile.
Amazed at herself.
13,128 hours is enough time for a stand to become a totter, a precarious forward wobble.
Enough time for a totter to become a walk.
Almost enough time for a run.
More than enough time for a climb, a scramble and a slide.
Air-assisted military operation continues in Mount Goman. Heavy bombing from artillery and howitzer.
Eighteen months is 547 days is 13,128 hours enough time to learn to say
Hello, goodbye, Moma, Dadda, moon, star, car and nose.
Enough time to turn the pages of a book, to point and say
“Roar” at the lion, “Tiger” at the tiger.
Enough time for a little finger to point at the duck and say
5th Day of Operation: Special troops and ammunition were downloaded to the areas of Mêrgesaw, Gorbadina and Çiyayê pane.
Eighteen months is 547 days is 13,128 hours is enough time to see autumn, winter, spring, summer, autumn and winter again.
Spring has come to my mountains, colourful flowers opened. The Frontier Battalion is a dagger in the heart of nature!
Seventeen months is 547 days is 13,128 hours is a very long time to see nothing,
Shut from the light, cut from your freedom
Separated from your family, deprived of your children
Simply for seeing the truth, for showing others the truth.
So far Nedim Türfent has been in prison 985 days, which is 140 weeks which is 23,640 hours.
About Nedim Türfent: Nedim is a Turkish news editor, reporter and poet who, after covering Turkish military operations in the southeast of the country, faced trumped-up terrorism charges following an unfair trial, during which scores of witnesses said they had been tortured into testifying against him, and is now serving an eight-year-and-nine-months prison sentence in harrowing conditions. He started composing poetry while detained.
About James Miller: James is the author of the novels Lost Boys (Little, Brown 2008), Sunshine State (Little, Brown 2010) and UnAmerican Activities (Dodo Ink 2017) as well as numerous short stories. He is senior lecturer in Creative Writing and English Literature at Kingston University.