Turkish Publishers’ Association: Turkey becoming country of prohibitions

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Turkish Publishers’ Association (TPA) has published “Freedom to Publish in Turkey 2016 Report,” in which it stated that Turkey is speedily becoming a country of prohitions.

The TPA releases an annual report that covers lawsuits, investigations regarding book contents, book recalls, censorship in prisons, schools and universities, books being counted as criminal evidence, pressure on the press and social media and recent legislative changes.

“Censorship has been spread and become an ordinary and normal phenomenon. Authorized, unauthorized people and institutions in every sphere of life has started to censor, ban things in their own way. Because of the wide-spread censorship everywhere in the country, self-censorship is used by people without them even realizing it most of the time. Turkey moves speedily towards being a country of prohibitions. Conditions that are necessary to provide an environment for freedom of thought and expression are being quickly destroyed. We are pessimistic,” TPA report stated.

The report, which covers incidents between June 2015 and June 2016, emphasized that books are still regarded as evidence of crime, while the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government regard the action of reading as a threat.

Referring to the takeover of Kaynak Publishing House by trustees appointed to the Kaynak Holding, the statement said: “Government-led seizure of these companies, which have contributed to the increase in size of the publishing sector and cultural life of the country, are regarded by many as a move that would undermine Turkey’s publishing.”

The report also indicated that Zaman media group — involving Today’s Zaman daily, Cihan News Agency, Aksiyon Weekly, Cihan Media Distribution, Irmak TV and Radio Cihan — was forcefully seized by the government due to allegedly being affiliated with the Gülen movement.

It was reminded in the report that a total of 25 magazines and books, including those written by Hasan Cemal, Bejan Matur and Tuğçe Tatari, was pulled off the shelves in government-led moves.

In October of last year, Turkey witnessed appointment of a panel of trustees to the İpek Koza Holding in a government-backed move, which apparently aimed to intimidate independent journalists and attracted widespread negative reaction.

The trustees took over the management of the Bugün and Millet dailies and the channels Bugün TV and Kanaltürk early on Oct. 28 when police forcibly entered the broadcasting headquarters of the media group, during which journalists and protesters claimed they were subjected to police brutality. The trustees immediately fired dozens of journalists from the group and turned the news outlets, which used to have a critical stance, into government mouthpieces. The outlets were later shut down.

Trustees also took over the management of Feza Publishing, which includes the Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies earlier in March. Zaman was Turkey’s best-selling daily before the appointment of the trustees selling 600,000 copies daily. The move left hundreds of journalists jobless.

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