Nazim Hikmet

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Date: 1938

Region: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature


Nazim Hikmet.jpg

Artist: Nazim Hikmet

Confronting Bodies: Turkish government officials

Dates of Action: 1938

Location: Turkey

Description of Artwork: Free verse poetry usually concerned with socialist matters and promoting Marxism. His works are filled with social criticism and he is one of the few writers who spoke out against the Armenian genocide in Turkey.

The Incident: Hikmet had already fled Turkey once under threat of arrest when he printed socialist ideas in a magazine, but returned in 1928. During this time he was harassed by police and was rarely out of jail. However, he continued to write his poetry. In 1938, military cadets were found reading his poems and Hikmet was charged of trying to incite an army revolt. These poems were Anti-Nazi and Anti-Franco. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Results of Incident: International protests by famous Communist sympathizers like Pablo Picasso, the Soviet Union awarding him with the World Peace Prize in 1949, and his declining health led the Turkish government to release Hikmet in 1951. However, when he was to be forced to complete his military service (Which being in prison prevented him from doing) at age 50, he fled the country to Moscow.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.