A Turkish court has ordered Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk to pay 6,000 liras (about 4,000 USD) to six individuals—1,000 liras each—in compensation for insulting their “Turkishness” after citing the number of Kurds and Armenians killed in Turkey. He has two weeks to appeal the case.
In February 2005, Pamuk told a Swiss newspaper, “Thirty-thousand Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it.” Six individuals launched a lawsuit against the novelist, including the ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz who is a suspect in the alleged Ergenekon coup plot against the Turkish government. The five others are said to be relatives of soldiers killed during Turkey’s fight against “terrorism.” They claimed Pamuk “accused all Turkish people” in his words.
Initially, the suit was rejected by the court in Sisli, a district in Istanbul. The plaintiffs then appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals. In 2009, the court deemed the case worthy of consideration. The Sisli court then reevaluated the case, and on March 27, 2011, ordered Pamuk to pay compensation to the plaintiffs.
Some Turkish writers and intellectuals have expressed their outrage at the court’s decision. They have pointed out that Pamuk did not even use the word “Turk” in his comment. “So why did they file a lawsuit against him? And what will happen if everyone decides to file a lawsuit against Pamuk? Will he pay compensation to all of them? It is hard to accept the fact that we are pushing an author who brought the Nobel Prize to Turkey into a corner,” Oral Calislar, a journalist, writer, and one of the initiators of the apology campaign launched by Turkish intellectuals in December 2008, told the Sunday Zaman.
A world-renowned writer, Pamuk received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. His books have been translated into about 50 languages. His widely acclaimed novel Snow was translated into Armenian by the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society in 2009, becoming the first literary work by a Turkish author to be translated into Armenian since the country regained its independence from the Soviet Union.