CULTURE

Kurdish pain as remembered by Gemil Turan

We weren’t late for our interview with Kurdish writer Gemil Turan, but he was already waiting. «When [Turkish Chief of General Staff Kenan] Evren’s coup took place in 1982,» Turan explained, «we used to go to meetings a minute early and leave a minute before the end. You get there early to see how the land lay, because they might have set you up. There were informers and spies everywhere. Gray Wolves. It became a habit.» It makes sense. By 1971 Turan had already spent three years in jail and had his first taste of torture. He gained amnesty in 1974, but never stopped struggling for an independent Kurdistan, and ended up in prison again. «In 1980 I was sentenced to 10 years in Istanbul and another eight years in Diyarbakir,» he said. On that occasion, torture nearly cost him his life. He suffered a stroke, was taken to prison and left to his fate. Comrades spirited him away to the mountains and eight months later he fled to Greece. In 1984, he requested political asylum, and Antonis Tritsis, the late PASOK deputy, sent him to Denmark to a rehabilitation center for the victims of torture. Gentle and courteous, Turan is passionate when he speaks about his homeland. He believes in the power of politics and diplomacy, without rejecting armed conflict. And he gets riled when he talks about massacres and expulsions. Cut off from his country, Turan found shelter and work (as a journalist) in Greece, and has written three novels in Greek, all published by Kastaniotis. The most recent is «I nychta pou evlepe tin mera» (The Night That Saw The Day).