Turkish Poet and Columnist Ataol Behramoğlu: “Two Heartaches”

The first one, the physical one, has been disturbing me for some time.

After the diagnosis, it has been understood that a by-pass heart surgery would be necessary.

My friend Rei Berroa, who is a Dominican poet, writes to me, ‘’do not worry, ‘it will pass by’, he changes the locations of the words…

And adds ‘Poetry protects us’…

During flights, announcements after take off sometimes say ‘‘landing will be at so and so hour if any delay does not happen due to air traffic or any other reason’’ …

Maybe I am just making up the phrase “any other reason”…

That is; if we do not crash, if any problem does not occur…

The operation will take place on 14th June, Thursday…

When this article is published on Saturday, I will have been transferred to a hospital room from the intensive care unit, unless “any other reason” interferes…

For all I know, probably I will be able to hold the newspaper in my hands and read it…

I wholeheartedly trust the great improvements in the medical science, our doctors and our medical staff.

I hope that my obligatory break from this column will not exceed two, maximum three weeks…


My second heartache is related to my country and is immeasurable heavier than the first one which is physical…

It has now turned into throbbing…

An incurable vicious circle without an exit; an accumulation of unvoiced screams…

I do not remember any other term when the force that had captured the political power in this country had become so vulgar as it is today, so corrupt, and so hypocritical; when the legal system had been so downtrodden, deteriorated, collapsed and turned into a means of cruelty.

Citizens of a country, vast masses could not possibly be more insensitive and disinterested onlookers while their country is being lost, than they are today.

The majority of press and media – with the exception of few honest newspapers and television channels- could not be any crueler than today, could not be more dedicated to the service of the political power.

There could not be possibly any  more intellectuals than there are today, who have lost their critical integrity and intellectual capacity while  serving the political power, and have turned into unreliable  creatures; whereas protesting intellectuals who have kept their honesty  and courage could not be possibly in a worse situation of  desperate rage and agony, searching for an outlet.


Dear readers, dear friends.

We need to find a way out.

We must give voice to our rage, to our protests everywhere and under all condition.

Let us rush into legal courts as audiences where injustice dominates, not justice.

Let’s put behind our work, our professions, holiday plans, etc., and go and support our honest, conscientious people chosen as victims by the injustice.

The way for downgrading, defeating injustice, cruelty and illegality is 

 to protest against them in every possible way and to  decipher their dark hypocrisy.

If we can manage and perpetuate this, it will be seen that the cruel and its cruelty are not as powerful as supposed to be, and that sometimes even a flip will be sufficient…


Though I feel embarrassed when I have to talk about myself, I shall end my words  by referring to myself since I wish to make a call to the administration of  the European Union, that of the European Parliament  (especially to those in charge of relations with Turkey), and to the associations of European writers and artists:

I am a poet who has many international awards – Lotus, Pouchkin in particular- and whose poems have been translated   into all main languages of the world.

I have lived in your countries for years.

Some of them were exile years…

Turkeyhas never, in no period previously, been pulled off and forced away to such an extent from being a part of the civilized, humanist, secular West, as it is today. 

Have you really lost your common sense and your trust in your own values in such a way that you cannot recognize that the sole aim of today’s political power inTurkeyis this? 

How much longer will you shut your ears to the screams rising from the prisons ofTurkey? When are you going to take a stand whole heartedly -without taking refuge in excuses, and without resorting to concessions and compromises against human rights violations enforced with serious sanctions in this country?

If of course, as your values of humanity, secularism and civil society impose on you, if you are aware of how big a lossTurkey’s entire withdrawal would be for universal human rights; and if of course, these universal values still bear some meaning for you…


Daily Cumhuriyet, 16.06.2012

(Translation from the original in Turkish)

* More info about Ataol Behramoğlu:


About CHP EU Representation

The CHP was founded on 9 September 1923, about one and half month before the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey. The first President of modern Turkey’s oldest party was M. Kemal Atatürk. Today CHP is a social-democratic party, member of the Socialist International and associate member of the Socialist Group at the European Parliament. The scope of the CHP bureau in Brussels is not limited to the bilateral framework of Turkey's EU accession process. Issues such as the information society, energy policies, social development, climate change, international trade and security are among the different focus areas. The EU-Turkey relations are about integration and need multiple, plural and horizontal channels of communication. The CHP supports and promotes Turkey's EU membership process also by being more present and active in Brussels The CHP's Representative to the EU is Ms Kader Sevinç who previously worked as an MEP advisor at the European Parliament and in the private sector.
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