Ilhan Çomak has been behind bars for 26 years

Help us to free the Poet!

‘Life, separated from the sun

There’s no direction here

But there is a way out

Always, a way out.’

-Ilhan Çomak


Ilhan Çomak is Turkey’s longest-serving student prisoner. Arrested aged 22 in 1994, he’s now been behind bars for 26 years. PEN Norway is leading a campaign to call for his immediate release and to share his poetry widely.

Ilhan has written and published 8 books of poetry from solitary confinement. His only company is a small pet bird. His trial lasted 22 years and he was given a life sentence for a crime he denies. Having signed a confession after 19 days of torture, Ilhan was convicted of lighting a forest fire in the name of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and was sentenced to death for the crime of ‘separatism’. His sentence was commuted to life. Ilhan has 4 more long years to serve before he will be freed on parole. He has always maintained his innocence.

Read his poems here in English. Read poems written for him by poets in Europe. Read poems written with him from solitary confinement in Silivri Prison, outside Istanbul where he is one of 23,000 prisoners in Turkey’s highest security facility. Help us with our call to Free the Poet!

Ilhan Çomak was 47 in 2020. He has spent more than half his life behind bars, innocent of the crime of which he was charged as a student in 1994. #freethepoet