Sevan Nişanyan was arrested on December 30th by the Greek authorities. He is being held in custody in the island of Samos pending deportation -probably, but not certainly- to Armenia. Sevan has been ordered out of Greece on grounds of “national security”.
No further details have been given. He believes that the local police of Samos is responsible for the decree, motivated by the racist and xenophobic paranoia which has gripped the Greek islands during the refugee crisis of recent years. Sevan, a prolific writer, linguist, and historian, fled his native Turkey in 2017 to escape persecution.
He has lived quietly since in a remote village of Samos. He is married to Ira, a Greek citizen. He also holds Armenian citizenship.
Sevan Nişanyan is not a random person. A Turkish-Armenian writer and linguist, a graduate of Columbia University have written emblematic books, including The Great Etymological Dictionary, in which he reveals 10,000 toponyms that the Turks distorted by replacing their Greek and Armenian names with fake ones. their story! Nişanyan was honored with the Ayşe Nur Zarakolu Freedom Award of the Turkish Human Rights Association in 2004 for his contribution to the Struggle for freedom of speech.
The man who re-Hellenized a Greek village in Asia Minor! He is also known for his work to restore a half-ruined village, Kirkintze, off the Aegean coast of Turkey. Nişanyan married Müjde Tönbekici in 1992. The couple settled in Şirince (Kirkintzes), a Greek village in the Aegean hills of western Turkey, which was half-ruined by the Greek Genocide in Asia Minor. The couple made a decisive contribution to the proclamation of the village as a national heritage monument and undertook to renovate the ruined historic houses using the original materials and the Greek building techniques of the village.
After 2006, Nişanyan collaborated with Ali Nesin, the son of writer Aziz Nesin and a prominent mathematician and philanthropist, to create the “mathematical village of Nesin” near Şirince. Built strictly according to the lines of the traditional Aegean Greek architecture, the village offered summer courses at the college level and postgraduate courses in mathematics. It attracted distinguished professors from all over the world, hosting over 300 students until the summer of 2013. Nişanyan also built the “Medresesi Theater”, a theatrical institute and a shelter for actors. The Nişanyan Memorial Library was completed in 2013. Even a school of philosophy started operating in the area of the “Mathematical Village” in 2014.
We are talking about the absolute resurrection, restoration, and reopening of a martyr village in Turkey! But his action did not stop here. In 2012, Nişanyan restored an Ancient Greek Ionic-style façade in the style of the ancient tombs of Lycia, measuring eight by five meters, carved into a limestone rock overlooking the Mathematical Village he created. The restoration of the ancient Greek facade was done with hand tools and it took three years to complete. Nişanyan drafted the plan and contributed much of the work!