Page last updated at 03:54 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Turkey rehabilitates poet Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet
After losing his Turkish nationality, Nazim Hikmet became a Polish citizen

Turkey says it is to restore the citizenship of one of its most illustrious poets and playwrights.

Nazim Hikmet was stripped of his citizenship for his Marxist beliefs in the 1950s after he fled the country, having spent years in Turkish prisons.

Hikmet, who died in exile in Moscow in 1963, revolutionised Turkish poetry during the 1930s and has had his work translated into some 50 languages.

Deputy PM Cemil Cicek said it was time for the government to change its mind.

"The crimes which forced the government to strip him of his citizenship at that time are no longer considered a crime," he said.

Mr Cicek said it was up to Hikmet's relatives to decide if they wanted to bring his remains back from Moscow, in accordance with a wish in his will to be buried under a tree in an Anatolian cemetery.

It is a step toward accepting differences in opinions, languages and ethnicity, which is necessary to become a member in the EU
Dogu Ergil
Political analyst, Ankara University

After losing his Turkish nationality, the poet became a Polish citizen.

Hikmet's work was banned in Turkey until 1965. Even as recently as 2005, authorities detained and questioned a teenager who read one of his poems at school for suspected activities against the state.

Despite this, there has been a widespread public campaign in recent years by Hikmet's many admirers - including the Nobel Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk - calling for his rehabilitation.

Dogu Ergil, a political analyst at Ankara University, said the government's decision to restore the late poet's citizenship was a symbolic step meant to show the country was now prepared to embrace a limited amount of criticism.

"It is a step toward accepting differences in opinions, languages and ethnicity, which is necessary to become a member in the EU," he told the Associated Press.

Your comments:

Nazim is among the magnificent poets of the twentieth century. His recognition at last by his own government is important. Yet there lingers the decades in prison and exile. This is an important but still political move. Yet I weep for his liberation from the prison of dismissal and blindness.
Paul Munn, USA

An excellent and long-overdue decision! Something our social democrats did not have the courage to do - three cheers for the government. Obstabcles to democracy here are frequently encountered at the lower levels, and in the entrenched bureaucracy and judiciary.
Georgina Özer, Istanbul, Turkey

Regardless of this decision, Hikmet lived in the hearts and souls of millions of Turkish people ever since he went to exile. As a 25 year old, I grew up with his poetry and every poem I read of him is nothing short of a life changing experience. He wrote for the people and nothing more. Hikmet, you'll always be remembered.
Basar Kizildere, Turkey & Spain

As your article states Nazim Hikmet is one of the best Turkish poets ever. And it is about time that the Turkish State has finally come to realize this and has repatriated him. I guess there is always hope that people and states change their ways and beliefs and realize that there is always room for other ideas and beliefs.
Zafer Sungur, Vancouver, Canada

When I was growing up it was hard to find Nazim's poetry. Later on, they became available and a fountain opened up! He will live long in our hearts and minds.
Savas Tumer, San Francisco, USA

As a Australian Turk, I feel it is about time that Turkey, as a nation stops being insecure and starts to accept differences in opinion, criticism, religion etc.
Gurkan Boyund, Sydney, Australia

Nazim Hikmet's poems are fantastic. They made a wise decision to allow him to come back to his own country. His poems are so emotional.
Ilyas, London, UK

He should have never been sent to exile in the first place and stripped from his citizenship. We are 59 years late but every little helps.
Efe Miller, UK

This was good news from Turkey, even if with such a big delay. I hope other steps of this kind will follow. It was good for the Turks first of all to accept such a significant part of their modern cultural inheritance.
Hohn Notaras, Athens, Greece

Despite his ties with Poland, Hikmet's poetry was non-existent in the curriculum during the communist period and even now, he is best known for his excellent love poems, and not the revolutionary texts.
Marzena Canert, Warsaw, Poland

As a fiery Greek teenager more than three decades ago, I found in Nazim's poetry a beautiful way to articulate my tangled feelings and frustrations. Following passively the despicable war news today as a middle aged man, I'm touched by the thought that Nazim's body might at last rest in his beloved home country.
Philip Papadopoulos, Thessaloniki, Greece

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