Over 100 journalists, lawyers and politicians were reportedly detained this morning across Türkiye: https://bianet.org/english/law/277727-over-100-journalists-lawyers-politicians-detained-in-raids-targeting-pro-kurdish-groups. Though numbers differ, at least 10 journalists are said to be detained. We condemned the raids on our social media channels: https://twitter.com/pen_int/status/1650797178418331648 and wish to express our deepest solidarity with our friends at Kurdish PEN and PEN Türkiye.
As per email below, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) drafted a joint statement condemning the raids, which they plan to publish at 4.30pm CET. Deadline is tight, though they will still be collecting signatures following publication. Please let me or Gürkan (email@example.com) know whether you wish to sign on as well.
Aurélia Dondo| Head of Europe and Central Asia Region
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
Regarding this morning’s raids in 21 provinces of Turkey, based on a Diyarbakır-centred “anti-terror” operation that led to detention of 10 journalists so far, Zeyneb from IPI and I have drafted the following statement, open for comments and signatures. We aim to proceed quickly and publish it today with those that want to sign on until 16.00 CEST; with publication time set for 16.30 CEST. [After publication, we can still add signatures from those that get confirmation later].
I believe publishing this statement today and keeping additional signatures open until tomorrow morning 10.00 CEST would be significant. But, first we would like to see your comments and suggestions on the statement.
[A Turkish translation will also be available once the signatures are finalised]
Gürkan Özturan (He/Him) | Media Freedom Rapid Response Coordinator
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom
Menckestraße 27, 04155 Leipzig/Germany
P | +49 (0) 172 367 8146
W | www.mfrr.eu – www.ecpmf.eu – www.mapmf.org
Türkiye: Wave of book bans and restrictions condemned
23 March 2023 – PEN International condemns the Turkish authorities’ decision to ban and confiscate Rüyası Bölünenler (Dream Divided) by writer Yavuz Ekinci under spurious ‘terrorism’ charges. The move is the latest in a growing number of books banned or branded ‘obscene’ and sold with restrictions in Türkiye.
On 14 March 2023, a court in Istanbul ruled that Rüyası Bölünenler (Dream Divided) by Yavuz Ekinci included content amounting to ‘terrorist propaganda’ and banned its publication, distribution, and sale under Article 7/2 of Anti-Terror Law No. 3713. Copies of the book were also confiscated. Also in March 2023, Türkiye’s Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Services deemed Başkomiser Nevzat: Tapınak Fahişeleri (Captain Nevzat: Temple Prostitutes), by renowned crime novelist Ahmet Ümit to have a ‘harmful effect on the spirituality of those under the age of 18’, in accordance with Article 4 of Law No. 1117 on the Protection of Minors from Harmful Publications. The Ministry issued a similar decision in February 2023 against The Sex of Cherry by English novelist Jeanette Winterson. Both books will now be sold in a non-transparent package, will only be available in retail bookstores and come with a +18 warning. Previously in January 2023, two books by writer and PEN member Murat Kahraman, Bitmeyen Veda and Çığlık (Scream) were banned from publication, distribution and sale, and promptly confiscated.
‘We deplore the Turkish authorities’ decision to ban books by Yavuz Ekinci and Murat Kahraman and stand with the many authors and publishers facing similar restrictions in Türkiye. The past few years have seen hundreds of thousands of books destroyed by the Turkish authorities and dozens of independent publishers shut down. Meanwhile, writers and publishers alike deplore a rise in self-censorship, as the threat of being prosecuted and jailed for ‘obscenity’ is all too real. The Turkish authorities should immediately take steps to overturn their latest book bans and end their baseless campaign against reading materials,’ said Burhan Sonmez, PEN International president.
Yavuz Ekinci, born in 1979, has received multiple awards for his short stories, including the 2005 Haldun Taner Award and the 2007 Yunus Nadi Award. His work focuses on the plight of Kurdish people in Türkiye and has been translated into English, German, and Kurdish.
The Turkish authorities have dramatically increased their influence on the media and publishing landscape in recent years, leading to a growing number of books being branded ‘obscene’ and vilified by pro-government media. On 21 March 2023, PEN Türkiye, the Turkish Publishers Association and the Turkish Writers Union issued a statement condemning the bans against books by Yavuz Ekinci and Murat Kahraman, and restrictions placed against those by Ahmet Ümit and Jeanette Winterson. According to them, 36 books were branded ‘obscene’ between July 2018 and December 2022. In 2022, a total of 10 books, including eight children’s books, were declared harmful.
For more information about PEN International’s work on Türkiye please see Impunity Reigns – Writers resist, PEN International’s 2022 Case List, which documents 115 cases of persecuted writers worldwide, including Yavuz Ekinci.
For further details contact Aurélia Dondo, Head of Europe and Central Asia Region at PEN International: Aurelia.email@example.com
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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.