Turkey on Wednesday marked the 58th death anniversary of the legendary Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet.
Hikmet was born in 1902 to an elite family in Thessaloniki (Thessalonica), an Ottoman Empire territory in present-day Greece. He grew up in Anatolia, the Turkish heartland.
After studying economics and political science in Moscow, he returned home as Marxist in 1924, a year after the new Turkish Republic was founded following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Then Hikmet fled Turkey for Moscow after a court sentenced him to 15 years in prison for his poems and articles published in Aydinlik magazine.
Hikmet's first poetry collection called "Gunesi icenlerin Turkusu" (The Ballad of Those Who Drink the Sun) was published in Baku in 1927.
He was imprisoned for a brief period when he entered Turkey in July 1928 to take advantage of the amnesty issued on the 5th anniversary of the republic.
He was acquitted in many lawsuits relating to his poems, but was again arrested on the allegation of "establishing a secret organization" until 1933, and later on the charge of "inciting the army and navy to rebellion," and was sentenced to 28 years and 4 months in prison.
Freed in 1950 under the general amnesty, the poet was awarded the "International Peace Prize" by the World Peace Council along with Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, Wanda Jakubowska and Pablo Neruda.
In 1951, he left Turkey permanently to live in the Soviet Union, from which he traveled to Eastern Europe, Cuba, and other places.
When he left Turkey in 1951, Turkey stripped him of his citizenship, but was restored it 58 years later, in 2009.
UNESCO declared 2002 the Year of Nazim Hikmet to mark the 100th anniversary of his birthday.
Hikmet died of a heart attack in Moscow in 1963 and is still buried there, despite attempts to return his remains to Turkey.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan