8 June 2012
Forty-six books were banned, withdrawn from the market or saw their authors sued during the last year in Turkey, while dozens of writers and publishers were tried for their published works, a recent report by Turkey’s Publishers Union has revealed.
“Judicial oppression is gradually increasing, and arrested writers and journalists whose trials are pending have been portrayed as terrorists by state officials,” the report said.
Probes against publications have been justified on the grounds that the works are defamatory, feature obscene content or illegal terrorist propaganda, humiliate religious values or attack personal rights.
The report also lists cases opened against expressions published on social media outlets.
Internationally known books such as Chuck Palahniuk’s bestseller “Snuff,” which was translated into Turkish under the title “Ölüm Pornosu” (Death Porn) and William S. Burroughs’ 1961 novel “The Soft Machine” are among the books banned in Turkey.
The report also drew attention to the cases of social media users. One such case it that of a 17-year-old teenager, who faces two years in prison for “insulting the prime minister and Cabinet ministers” on his Facebook account, according to the report.
“Religion absurdity,” an open debate subject in an online dictionary known as the Sour Times (Ekþi Sözlük), also resulted in a case against an Internet user for allegedly “insulting religious values.”
Caricaturist Bahadýr Baruter was also put on trial for allegedly “insulting the religious values adopted by a part of the population,” with prosecutors demanding that he be sentenced to one year in prison for the alleged offense.
Journalists fired for “criticizing the government” were also mentioned in the report. Nuray Mert, Banu Güven, Ece Temelkuran, Cüneyt Ülsever, Ruþen Çakýr and Mehmet Altan were counted as oppositional columnists who lost their jobs after being targeted by the government, the report said.
The process of oppression has resulted in appearance of a strong mechanism of self- censorship to appear in the Turkish media, the report said.