Resistance. For Ilhan Comak and all political prisoners in Turkey

Resistance. For Ilhan Comak and all political prisoners in Turkey


For Ilhan Comak and all political prisoners in Turkey


They may fasten your chain

Deprive you of your books and pens

They may fill your mouth with earth

Poetry will feed your heart. Like blood

It is salt to the bread

And water to the eye


You will write it with nails and daggers

You will recite it in your prison cell

Under the whip

Under the chains

In spite of handcuffs


You have a million nightingales

On the branches of your heart

Singing the song of freedom


Estella Arima,

London, February 2020


Notes for a Culture of Liberation


Among all those locked up in Turkey for having an opinion, or for being a Kurd, or for being a political opponent of the increasingly authoritarian (and intolerant) right-wing regime of Turkish President (and Chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP]) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or for being a journalist, or a student protestor, (“there are currently up to 70,000 students in jail”), the Kurdish poet İlhan Sami Çomak is one of the longest, now serving 26 years for a crime he did not commit, for a confession extracted, as is the norm in too many places including Turkey, under torture, and for his alleged involvement with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) whilst  studying Geography at the University of Istanbul.


İlhan Sami Çomak, who was born in 1973, was arrested as a young student in 1994:

“There was no military judge at the court this second time but the mentality of the military court and judge was there. They didn’t listen to him, to his lawyers and to the witnesses at all. It was such a lousy court, that even the prosecutor was watching a webpage selling watches on his computer during the trials openly. We, in the observer seats saw that.” (İpek Özel, who visits Çomak in prison)


He has now been in  prison four more years than Nâzım (“I’ve slept in prisons and in grand hotels / I’ve known hunger even a hunger strike and there’s almost no food I haven’t tasted / at thirty they wanted to hang me / at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize / which they did” ‘Autobiography’, September, 1961, East Berlin) Hikmet,  the communist poet who died in 1963 after a passionate and intense life spent either in Turkey’s prisons or in exile; always writing, always optimistic.


There is currently a campaign and increased publicity to try and get this poet released… not so, unfortunately the countless others who have lost their freedom because they live  in one of the darkest of dark ages for humans, in one of the darkest of dark countries for those who believe that to raise one’s voice and to seek to create a better society for all (including Kurds and other so-called ‘minorities’) is a human right as well as a responsibility.


There can be no shortage of frustration at these pathetic regimes with their arrogant and power-hungry dictators assuming enormous power to hurt and destroy. But alongside the cruelty inflicted, the power misused, the violence and torture widespread,  the darkness, fear and oppression, the human voice has always resisted, always said no! and always fought and struggled for better days.


….For want of a better path…


…To show there is a better path..


…This recent poem by Estella Arima, herself a long time fighter for justice for the Kurdish people, is one small flame lit in an incredibly dark place.


Let us value it and protect its light so that it grows and becomes a fire that helps decide the future for us all, our future, our children’s future, the peoples’ future, those that believe we were not born for whips and chains and dungeons and the cruelties of less-than-human monsters who need urgently to be banished from our history and our memories or kept as reminders of what we could have become – but did not because, collectively, and compassionately, we stood up and said, Basta! Enough! No!

“In spite of handcuffs


You have a million nightingales

On the branches of your heart

Singing the song of freedom”


séamas carraher


ImageBy 11sasapus11 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0


Peace in Kurdistan Campaign


Estella Schmid – Video – Peace In Kurdistan Campaign


2 poems by İlhan Sami Çomak:


English Appeal

“There are many other writers in Turkey who have fallen foul of the government. And 70,000 students currently in prison, but a writer such as Çomak, being the longest-serving one-time student, deserves our special attention. We call on the prime minister and the foreign secretary to make representations to the Turkish government to free him as soon as possible.”


Notes from TurkeyThe Turkish poet imprisoned for 26 years for a crime he did not commit – Georges Szirtes

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