William Saroyan Medal to Sevan Nishanian

Linguist and writer Sevan Nishanian is awarded with William Saroyan Medal by Armenian Ministry of Diaspora.

Linguist and writer Sevan Nishanian is awarded with William Saroyan Medal by Armenian Ministry of Diaspora. Sevan Nishanian has been under arrest since January 2014 on the ground that he carried out “unlicensed construction work” in his private property. His lawyer Ergin Cinmen accepted the medal on behalf of Nishanian. 

In the ceremony held in Istanbul on September 23, Aragats Akhoyan, an independent deputy from Armenian parliament, handed over the medal.

Armenians from Armenia, diaspora and Turkey, CHP Istanbul MP Selina Doğan, human right defenders, journalists and writers attended the ceremony.

Hrant Kasparyan, member of International Committee for Freedom and Justice for Sevan Nishanian gave the opening speech. After that, lawyer Ergin Cinmen provided information about the lawsuits against Nishanian and the ongoing legal progress.

Nishanian's mother Sona Nishanian also spoke through video call. She said that she wants to consider this medal as a promising development in terms of his son's release. Selina Doğan stated that she hasn't received any response to her parliamentary question about Nishanian, which was addressed to Ministry of Justice.

In the ceremony, solidarity messages from Armenian National Committee of America. (ANCA), European Armenian Council, German historian, scholar and author Prof. Dr. Tessa Hofmann and historican Taner Akçam were also read.

Independent Armenian Deputy Aragats Akhoyan:

“Armenian writer, linguist, intellectual and thinker Sevan Nishanian is in prison now. The body can be imprisoned, but is it possible to confine free thinking and a free heart?

Today, we are here to award a freedom-loving person with a medal of another freedom-loving thinker carrying the name of William Saroyan. Therewith, the Ministry of Diaspora duly appreciates Sevan Nishanian’s devoted activities, aiming to preserve and develop Armenian language and culture.”

Taner Akçam:

“Today, Sevan Nishanian is awarded with a really meaningful prize. William Saroyan is not only a prominent figure in Armenian literature, but also in world literature. He was one of the last sons of Armenian motherland, Anatolia. Now, an award named after him is given to another Armenian intellectual of these lands.

Sevan is not only a writer, he is also a historian, linguist, sociologist and political scientist. His works in these areas, as can be seen his Turkish dictionary and the books on history of Turkish language, are more valuable than the works by the official institutions working in these fields. His sophistication and immense creativity give him an “uncontrollable” quality.

His limitless creativity baffled the ones who attacked him. This was such a bafflement that they couldn't find a reason to arrest Sevan and they accused him of “violation of construction law”. He is sentenced with 17 years in prison and other sentences are coming...”

Aram Suren Hamparian, Executive Director of ANCA:

“Though we are outraged by your unjust imprisonment, we are not surprised by the way they treat you, since the head of this government performed the greatest violation of construction law in Turkish history with his presidential palace; not to mention his other countless crimes.”