International publishers blast censorship in Turkey
PARIS - Agence France-PresseThe International Publishers Association on Dec. 22 condemned what it called "blatant political censorship" in Turkey, saying three journalists' books had been pulled from shelves on court orders.
"Books by Hasan Cemal, Tuğçe Tatari and Müslüm Yücel will be removed from sale merely because they were found in the possession of people arrested on suspicion of being members of various outlawed political parties," the Geneva-based IPA said in a statement.
The Third Criminal Court of Peace in southeastern Gaziantep province decided to remove a total of three books focusing on the Kurdish problem by journalists Hasan Cemal and Tuğçe Tatari from bookstores after being seized during an operation into a cell where suspected militants of the outlawed Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), youth-wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), were detained. The court ruled for the confiscation of the books on Dec. 4, arguing they spread terrorist propaganda and praised criminal activity.
Another journalist, Ahmet Şık, has been fined for allegedly defaming the transport minister in a book, said the worldwide industry body, which considers fighting censorship to be part of its mission.
The Turkish Publishers Association also criticized the court move against the journalists, with its chief Metin Celal saying it revealed "the current regime's utter fear of words, because they realize that books are more powerful than weapons".
"We know that these authors are not terrorists nor do they write works in favour of terrorist organizations," Celal said in the statement.
"These actions damage our faith in the independence of the judiciary and only serve to perpetuate the worsening atmosphere of violence and oppression in our country."
IPA chief Jose Borghino said the crackdown fitted "the pattern of a regime desperate to avoid scrutiny and possible criticism."
There is growing concern over media freedom in Turkey, with rising numbers of journalists and members of the public facing legal proceedings on allegations of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Media rights watchdog RSF ranked Turkey 149th out of 180 in its 2015 press freedom index in October, warning of a "dangerous surge in censorship".