Remaining optimistic in Turkey an accomplishment - Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk

Retaining optimism despite the current “horrible’’ state of affairs in Turkey, where there is no freedom of thought, is praise worthy, Turkey’s Nobel-winning author Orhan Pamuk told Turkish arts and culture magazine OT.

Turkish democracy only exists at the ballot boxes, the 2006 Nobel literature laureate told the magazine, while pointing to what he called the horrific political state of the country.

“If you are not pessimistic even today, then praise onto you….. The state of Turkey is horrible, and its political state is [also] horrible. There is no democracy save casting a vote at the ballot box, there is no freedom of thought,’’ the 67-year-old author said. 

The prominent novelist has been an outspoken critic of the Turkish government, speaking out against life sentences handed to Turkish writers and calling the period of last year’s Istanbul mayoral election re-run at the request of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) one of the ugliest political eras of the country.

Pamuk has also called on European leaders to take a tougher line with Ankara on free speech.

Basic rights and freedoms in Turkey were severely curtailed in two years of emergency rule that followed a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

Turkey is ranked 109th out of 126 countries in the 2018-2019 Rule of Law Index, a measure of how the rule of law is perceived in countries around the world compiled by the World Justice Project, a non-profit civil society organisation.