Orhan Pamuk

By Hambersom Aghbashian

Ferit Orhan Pamuk , simply known as Orhan Pamuk ( born, Jun 7, 1952- Istanbul- Turkey ) is a Turkish novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. One of Turkey’s most prominent novelists, his work has sold over eleven million books in sixty languages, making him the country’s best-selling writer. Pamuk is a Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University(NY). His novels include The White Castle, The Black Book, The New Life, My Name Is Red and Snow. As well as the Nobel Prize in Literature (the first Nobel Prize to be awarded to a Turkish citizen), Pamuk is the recipient of numerous other literary awards. My Name Is Red won the 2002 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, 2002 Premio Grinzane Cavour and 2003 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The book was translated into 24 languages.(1)

In 2005, Pamuk was put on trial in Turkey after he made a statement regarding the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. “Thirty thousand Kurds have been killed here, and a million Armenians. And almost nobody dares to mention that. So I do.”, remarked Pamuk. After he made those remarks in 2005, rallies were held to burn his books and a hate campaign forced him to flee the country. When he returned, the future Nobel laureate faced a criminal trial. He stood his ground: “What happened to the Ottoman Armenians in 1915 was a major thing that was hidden from the Turkish nation; it was a taboo. But we have to be able to talk about the past.” insisted Pamuk.(2).

According to “The New York Times”, Dec. 16, 2005, Mr. Pamuk, 53, the author of “My Name Is Red” and “Snow,” is accused of insulting “Turkishness” with his comments to a Swiss magazine in February. In the interview, he referred to the Armenian genocide committed by the Ottoman government during World War I, and to the Turkish government’s more recent clashes with Kurds. International scholars have widely agreed that more than a million Armenians were killed in the genocide. But the topic is still off-limits in Turkey, and the government still denies that the killings were part of a genocidal campaign. Mr. Pamuk’s comments provoked outrage in the country, and he was charged under Article 301 of the revised penal code, which criminalizes criticism of “Turkishness,” of state institutions and of the revered founder of the republic, Ataturk. The author faces up to three years in prison if convicted. (3)

A criminal case was opened against Orhan Pamuk based on a complaint filed by ultra-nationalist lawyer Kemal Kerinçsiz*. The charges were dropped on 22 January 2006. Rallies were held to burn his books.

According to SPIEGEL Online International, Jan. 23, 2006, The trial against novelist Orhan Pamuk — accused of “insulting Turkishness” – has been abandoned amid international outrage at the affront to freedom of expression. The EU welcomes the decision, but many similar cases are pending.(4)

However, Kemal Kerinçsiz, appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal which ordered the court in ªiºli to re-open the case. On March 27, 2011, Pamuk was found guilty and ordered to pay 6,000 liras fine for his stand point. The charges against Pamuk caused an international outcry and led to questions in some circles about Turkey’s proposed entry into the European Union.


*Kemal Kerinçsiz (B.1960 in Edirne, Turkey) is a Turkish lawyer, famous for filing complaints against more than 40 Turkish journalists and authors (including Orhan Pamuk and the late Hrant Dink) for “insulting Turkishness”. On 5 August 2013 Kerinçsiz was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment as part of the Ergenekon ( a Turkish nationalist underground organization) trials.

1- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orhan_Pamuk

2- http://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2011/03/norm-naimark-on-armenias-genocide-turkeys-denial/

3- http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/international/europe/16turkey.html?_r=0

4- http://www.spiegel.de/international/avoiding-eu-condemnation-turkey-drops-orhan-pamuk-trial-a-396786.html

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