In symbolic step, Turkey restores poet's citizenship
ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey restored the citizenship of its most famous poet this week in a symbolic step meant to show it was addressing criticism of its human rights record in hopes of joining the European Union.
Turkey stripped Nazim Hikmet of his nationality in 1951 at the height of the Cold War because of his communist views, branded him a traitor, and imprisoned him for more than a decade. He died in exile in Moscow in 1963, but his work lived on - and the government's decision to restore his rights is meant to show Turkey is ready 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," said Dogu Ergil, a political analyst at Ankara University.
Considered to be one of Turkey's first modern poets, Hikmet's deep love for his country and rich use of free verse earned him the esteem of artists, intellectuals, and champions of free expression.
Hikmet traveled to Moscow to study economics and sociology in the 1920s, and came under the thrall of the Bolshevik revolution.
Authorities took a dim view of his work for a leftist magazine after he returned, but he evaded them and went back to Moscow before he could be imprisoned.
He came back to Turkey a second time after a general amnesty in 1928 - only to be imprisoned a decade later on charges of inciting officers to rise up against their commanders.
He wrote some of his best poetry in prison, including his epic masterpiece, "Human Landscapes."