A Journal of People report
With arrests, sentencing, shuttering and confiscation, the situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate.
A Melville House Books report said:
In the last few weeks, president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s authoritarian regime has sentenced a minister of parliament to twenty-five years in prison for divulging “state secrets,” arrested a judge from the UN’s Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, and denounced the US’s decision to pursue criminal charges against a group of twelve Turkish security guards for kicking the shit out of a group of Kurdish protestors in Washington DC last month. In the last fifteen days alone, almost 2,500 people have been detained or arrested, including Taner Kilic, a local chair of Amnesty International.
The June 16, 2017 datelined report by Simon Reichley said:
“In addition to pursuing individuals allegedly linked to the so-called Fetullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (FETO), the regime has continued to apprehend and harass magazine and book editors across the country.
“On Thursday, an Istanbul court indicted Oğuz Güven, web editor of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, according to a report by YeniSafak. Güyen was arrested on May 12, and has been released until his hearing in September. He faces up to ten years in prison for creating and disseminating terrorist propaganda. These charges stem from an article that ran on the Cumhuriyet website about the death of Mustafa Alper, a prosecutor in southwest Turkey who was killed in a truck accident in May. According to YeniSafak, prosecutors found that the piece was insulting to the memory of the deceased (which is apparently a crime in Turkey) and to the office Alper held. Güven is not the first Cumhuriyet staffer to face suspicious legal proceedings.
“In a separate case, prosecutors have also filed charges against the chief editor of Derin Tarih, Mustafa Armağan, for an article that magazine ran on Latife Hanım, wife of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.
“Defamation of Atatürk is a criminal offense in Turkey, and according to the indictment, ‘the article was written with criminal intent to discredit Atatürk.’ Armağan insists that the material in question was sourced from other books and newspapers, and merely reflects the historical record.”
The “Turkish crackdown continues, with two magazine editors jailed for perceived insults” headlined report said:
“Erdoğan’s animus towards media figures, academics, and publishers — not to mention his aggression towards more traditional political opponents — is a chilling sign of the country’s steady march from authoritarianism towards totalitarianism, and the situation seems likely to get worse before it gets better. While the Turkish constitution nominally protects the freedom of the press and outlaws direct censorship, the current regime has been able to effectively weaponize a small handful of exceptions to that blanket protection through Article 301 of the constitution, which prohibits speech defaming Atatürk, ‘Turkishness’, and Turkish civic institutions.
“This should be a sobering reminder that, unless the freedom of the press is absolute, it doesn’t really exist. As we continue to debate appropriate legal restrictions on whistleblowing and government leaks in our own country, we should consider how quickly ‘reasonable’ limits on our freedoms can be converted into highly effective tools of repression.”
Another Melville House Books report said:
“Even the mildest story about cats won’t escape the censors in Turkey right now.
“For months, we’ve been covering president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ever-expanding crackdown on Turkish journalists and publishers, instigated in response to the attempted coup last summer. The situation is so dire that the Committee to Protect Journalists has resorted to publishing weekly updates on the latest journalists and editors arrested, detained, or jailed by authorities.”
The May 17, 2017 datelined report by Kait Howard said:
“The shutdown of Istanbul’s city-owned 1453 Culture and Art magazine this week is a particularly unsettling example of how even the smallest act of resistance will provoke a full-scale response by Turkish authorities. As the journalist-run website TurkeyPurge reported, officials have promptly discontinued the magazine after it published a photograph of anti-Erdoğan graffiti in a review of a documentary about cats who inhabit Istanbul’s streets. The offending graffiti, reading ‘Erdo-gone! Inshallah mashallah,’ appeared on a wall behind an attractive, yawning feline.”
The “Turkish magazine shuttered over photo of anti-Erdoğan graffiti” headlined report said:
“According to a statement on Tuesday by Kultur Inc, the municipality-owned enterprise that publishes the magazine, the publication was closed down for ‘ounderish, disrespectful and provocative content.’
“The statement also said the municipality will file legal complaint for the magazine’s editorial coordinator, managing editor and the editor[-in-chief] who were already dismissed from their posts.”
“The website Turkish Minute corroborated the report, reporting that the shutdown was also announced by Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbaş, who’s quoted saying, ‘What has been done in the magazine is an act of cheapness and immorality.’
“Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Patrick Kingley has an unsettling report on the toll the crackdown in taking on some Turkish citizens. In one interview, the wife of an imprisoned journalist described going to visit her husband — one of at least 120 jailed journalists — as ‘entering the belly of the beast.’”
Another Melville House Books report said:
“This past Saturday, Turkish authorities launched a nighttime raid on the offices of Belge Yayinlari in Istanbul. According to a report in the Armenian Mirror-Spectator and other outlets, officers confiscated more than 2,000 books, prevented employees from leaving the premises, and detained Mehmet Ali Varis, an editor at the press.”
The May 12, 2017 datelined report said:
“The raid was launched in response to alleged connections between the publishing house and the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party / Front (DHKP/C), a Marxist-Leninist political party and military insurgency, which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and the United States.”
The “Turkish police confiscate 2,170 books from Belge Publishing House” headlined report by Simon Reichley said:
“Ragıp Zarakolu — the founder and publisher of Belge Yayınları — has long been persecuted by the Turkish state for publishing books that address the Armenian genocide, translations of Greek literature, and the experiences of ethnic and religious minorities (including Jews and Kurds) in Turkey. Along with his wife and co-founder Ayse Nur, Zarakolu was jailed several times in the seventies for his writing and his affiliation with various human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Association of Turkey, and has continued to be harassed, monitored, and prosecuted by the Turkish state. He has been arrested and tried for various crimes against the state seven times since 2002. Charges included disseminating separatist propaganda, making propaganda for an illegal organization, insulting the memory of Kemal Atatürk, and criticizing members of the Turkish military. In 2012, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“This most recent assault comes in the midst of president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s brutal, nearly unprecedented crackdown on dissident voices and political apostates in (and outside of) Turkey. In the week following the Belge raid, two Turkish citizens suspected of affiliation with Gülen (an Islamic sect blamed by the Turkish government for the attempted coup in 2016), died during police raids, and dozens of dissident writers, teachers and politicians were detained across the country.”