Translator Received PEN Prize in Jail

April 17, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


Translator Ayse Berktay was jailed after being convicted as a member of a KCK organization, but that didn’t stop her from winning the PEN American Center’s 2013 Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.  This is the 27th time the award has been given to an international literary figure who has been imprisoned for defending the right to expression.

The award will be given in New York City at PEN’s Annual Gala at the American Museum of Natural History.

The PEN American Center President, Peter Goldwin recently said, “Ayşe Berktay is a brave, clear, passionate voice for women’s rights and cultural rights in Turkey, and she absolutely should not be in prison.  As a translator and as a peaceful activist, her life has been shaped by the desire to bridge cultures and convey truths that challenge official orthodoxies and histories. That this could be somehow labeled terrorism reveals a great deal about Turkey today—a country that, despite so much progress in so many areas, is now prosecuting scores of writers and journalists, most of them on specious terrorism charges. This award, which honors Ayşe Berktay’s courage, signals PEN’s determination to reverse this disturbing trend. The Turkish government can begin by arranging her immediate release.”

The translator was arrested in 2011 for being involved in a KCK illegal organization, despite the fact that she is a member of the pro-Kurdish Party for Peace and Democracy.  She has won numerous other awards for her bravery and solidarity in standing for her beliefs.


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