The International Publishers Association (IPA) has denounced Turkish authorities after reports that police raided the Belge Publishing House in Istanbul on 7 May, seizing 2000 books.
The authorities have said that the raid was based on a court decision ordering a general search of the publishing house because ‘it was reported that they keep and distribute materials belonging to DHKPC terrorist organisation’, but the reason given by the police for books seizure was the lack of banderoles or copyright stamps. The IPA believes, however, that the real reason is an attempt to intimidate and harass a legitimate publisher that publishes some books critical of the regime and condemns the arbitrariness of this action by authorities.
Mr Kenan Kocatürk, President of the Turkish Publishers Association, which is a member of the IPA, said, ‘We have learnt that most of the seized books were actually old titles from the publisher’s backlist, which were published long before the banderole regulation was issued in 2001. It is not reasonable to expect these copies to have banderoles on them.’
‘This raid follows other recent actions by the authorities targeting publishers, including unlawful court decisions banning certain titles before publication as a “precaution” and unlawful seizures undertaken long after legal time limits for prosecution had expired. We think that opposition voices are a legitimate and necessary part of any healthy democracy, and that freedom of expression and freedom to publish are fundamental to all Turkish citizens’ right to information. Arbitrary book seizures like these are always of deep concern for law abiding publishers who are just doing their job of offering readers a range of opinions.’
Mr Kristenn Einarsson, the Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said, ‘The ongoing harassment of Turkish publishers is totally unacceptable and we strongly oppose all attacks on freedom to publish instigated by the Turkish authorities. The Belge Publishing House that was raided earlier this week was founded in 1977 by Ayşe Zarakolu and Ragıp Zarakolu both of whom have received the IPA’s Freedom to Publish prize: Ayşe Zarakolu in 1998, Ragıp Zarakolu in 2008. IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee will continue to monitor developments in Turkey and support our publishing colleagues in their struggle.’
Publishers Denounce Raid on Award-Winning Turkish Publisher