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World publishers decry Ankara’s abuse of State of Emergency powers to shutter a 30th Turkish publishing house

The Geneva-based International Publishers Association (IPA), speaking for 64 national publishers’ associations in 59 countries, has condemned the de facto state closure of yet another Turkish publishing house, Evrensel Basım Yayın (Evrensel Publishing House), under the government’s much expanded state of emergency powers.

Having already reined in 186 media outlets, including 29 publishing houses, the latest decree, promulgated on 29 October 2016, provides for the closure of two news agencies and 10 more newspapers, as well as three periodicals published by Doğa Basın Yayın with which Evrensel Publishing House is affiliated, including arts magazine Evrensel Kültür, political journal Özgürlük Dünyası and Kurdish-Turkish culture magazine Tîroj.

It comes on the heels of a broad range of similar authoritarian tactics, including the summary detentions and reported mistreatment of scores of journalists and authors, such as Aslı Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay, for whose release the IPA is also working on multiple fronts.

In a communiqué shared with the IPA, Evrensel Editor and Foreign Rights Manager Fulya Alikoç explained that on 30 October 2016 government officials and police arrived in an armoured vehicle at the magazines’ offices and promptly sealed them off. In addition, all related bank accounts and assets were summarily frozen, bringing the business to a sudden halt.

She wrote: ‘The activity of our publishing house is de facto stopped, arbitrarily and unlawfully ... We stand against the State of Emergency and its antidemocratic practices. We want our freedom of thought and expression to be recognized. A publisher’s job is to spread thoughts and dreams; we want to do our job without any oppression, without any threat and danger.’

“We want to do our job without oppression, threat or danger”
Fulya Alikoç, Evrensel

In response, IPA President Richard Charkin said: ‘Since the failed coup attempt on 15 July, President Erdogan has systematically brought his country’s media industries to its knees. There is of course no excusing the attempt to seize power in a violent coup, but Mr Erdogan’s subsequent purge has now extended to legitimate publishers and businesses with no links whatsoever to the coup. This latest action is another egregious and illegal violation of basic human rights that does Turkey a profound disservice by leaving even more people unemployed and further narrowing the country’s once rich publishing landscape.’

“This is an egregious and illegal violation of human rights that does Turkey a profound disservice”
Richard Charkin, IPA President

Founded in 1988, Evrensel Publishing House has produced 700 books, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s and young adult literature. It is a member of the Turkish Publishers Association, which is a member of the IPA.

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