Last March 8th, Pen Norway celebrated Ilhan Sami Çomak’s birthday. His lawyer, Ipek Özel, said that when Ilham was told about his birthday celebration, he said, “Tell them that after 27 years in prison, I’m still 22.” Ilhan was sent to prison in 1994 after being tortured and forced to a confession. Since then, he has maintained his innocence. The European Court of Human Rights ruled the illegality of his prosecution in 2007. After an appeal, the Turkish courts confirmed a life sentence in 2016 based on the same evidence illegally obtained in 1994.

During his imprisonment, Ilhan had written eight books of poetry, and he was awarded the prestigious Sennur Sezer award for poetry. He is an honorary member of Pen Norway.

To celebrate his life and imagination, the gathering counted with Ilhan’s mother’s words, as well as the reading of poets from different parts of the world.

We also had to watch the video of two beautiful songs, one “The Ivy” by Suna Alan, Ilhan’s cousin and Øivind Hånes & Karsten Brustad’s “Come to Me,” named after a poem by the same title written by Ilhan.

In the upcoming dates, Pressenza will release an exclusive interview granted by the poet. But for now, we repeat his words with faith in his prompt freedom, “‘I long to see vineyards in bloom, I long to get out into streets where children climb over garden walls to skip school, I long for rivers that run out of maps.”

 Please visit for more information and to support a campaign for his freedom. Birthday cards are also welcome.