16 days after a medical operation, despite efforts in intensive care prominent journalist and playwright Aydın Engin died in hospital on Thursday 24 March.
Engin’s life work was reporting and writing on events based in deep-rooted social and political conflicts, including on attempted transitions from autocracy to democracy and the reverse.
He left Istanbul University law school in the early 1960’s to join a theatre company, was among the founders of a theatre group in 1967, and began working as a journalist in 1970’s. It was in the 60’s that he took to political activism, joining the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP) and serving as a major local youth branch chair in 1963-64.
He was arrested after the military intervention on 12 March 1971 and was incarcerated for some time. Following his release, he joined a group of socialists to found the Socialist Workers Party of Turkey (TSİP), the first socialist party to be established after the military intervention.
Engin married Oya Baydar, another TSİP co-founder and novelist, during that time.
He was arrested again after the 12 September 1980 military coup, but managed to leave the country after he was mistakenly released. For 11 years he lived as a political refugee in Europe, mostly in Germany, during which he worked various jobs to earn a living, including as a cab driver.
He returned to Turkey in 1991 upon a partial clemency, and was incarcerated for a short time.
He worked in the oldest Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1992 and 2002 as editor and opinion writer. He was amongst the founders of a new daily, Birgün, in 1992, and wrote opinion pieces in his column, ‘Tırmık’ (‘Cat’s Scratch’), for some time.
He had a column under the same title in news Website T24 for a long time, and wrote many ‘scratches’ till recently, when he was hospitalised for an operation.
Engin was among few Turkish intellectuals who were never shy to write on state crimes including the Armenian genocide and a century of war policies targeting the Kurdish people and its political organisations.
Aris Nalcı recalls in Artı Gerçek how Engin encouraged him and others to continue publishing Armenian weekly, Agos, after its founder Hrant Dink was assassinated in 2007, and how upon the murder of Dink, he instantly organised a TV interview between mainstream journalist and TV anchor Mehmet Ali Birand and the editors of Agos.