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»Türkei: Der Ausnahmezustand bedroht die Freiheit der Verlage«

Studie des türkischen Verlegerverbands, 12.7.2017 (engl. Originalfassung)

The main event that marked the publishing activities as much as the history of Turkey last year was undoubtedly the attempted coup on 15 July 2016. The State of Emergency was declared on 20 July 2016, to speed up the operations and investigation and to restore security in the country following the momentous event in which 246 people lost their lives in conflicts and incidents during the coup attempt.
However, with the extension of the State of Emergency several times over the past few months, independence of the judiciary has been entirely suspended. The legislative power was taken away from the authority of the Grand National Assembly and given to the executive branch through Statutory Decrees. The scope of the operation was extended quickly to include all opposing civilian movements not related to terrorist organizations and eventually to ordinary citizens who voiced any form of criticism against the government and the presidency. Unfortunately, the current political and social polarization have become very sharp, and fear, anxiety, and pessimism deepened in society.
We observed that the number and severity of all questionable practices increased in this period regarding the freedom to publish noted in our report of 2015-2016. After the State of Emergency, 30 publishing houses were closed with statutory decrees leaving thousands of publishing professionals unemployed, the seized institutions’ debts were not taken over, and no compensation for labor was received. There were attacks against publishing houses and bookstores that became targets or were shut down.
Our member Turhan Günay, a literary laborer, and representative for Cumhuriyet Books and Gökçe Fırat Çulhaoğlu, editor-in-chief of İleri Publishing have been in jail for months on account of their work. Representatives of TPA member publishing houses Ahmet Nesin, owner of Düşün Publishing and Ragıp Zarakolu owner of Belge Publishing are both charged with terrorism for their civic actions and expressing their opinions.
The writers and publishing houses occasionally faced lawsuits arbitrarily for their unpublished publications, and several authors received imprisonment. Court decisions on book confiscation and prohibition increased rapidly at the local level. Law enforcement took action before serving the court rulings to the publishing houses. The publishing houses were deprived of their right to appeal and take preventive measures, which further victimized them. The case files included books and news columns as criminal evidence, and names of internationally known critical thinkers added to indictments as members of criminal organizations.
Thousands of academics were expulsed from their jobs and deprived of social their rights. The production and sale of academic and non-fictional publications have been severely affected by the intimidating blow that impacted the academy. Investigations were launched on hundreds of thousands of public officials, and the number of detainees in the country has exceeded 200,000. With heavy censorship and reprisals, journalists under detention, locked down press organizations and pressure on the remaining members, it became a miracle to exist as an independent press acting in freedom. Subsequently, Turkey was placed on the lowest rank in the world in press freedom. The representative example of closing Wikipedia in Turkey because of certain unwanted content has shown that country’s ranking in freedom is not very bright in internet freedom as well and is getting smeared further.

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