In its continuing repression campaign, the Turkish regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has targeted authors and publisher. The government has destroyed hundreds of thousands of books in the past three years, Media Line reported on Monday, September 9th.
A new book on the prevalence of sexual exploitation of children during the Ottoman Empire led to indecent charges against Mehmet Sabuncu and Kaynak Publishing House, Turkish news portal Ahval reported.
"It's not fair feeling that threat," he told freelance journalist Kristina Jovanovski. "First of all, it's not good for the publisher financially if they destroy books, and it's also problematic for freedom of speech."
In May, a Turkish author and publisher were arrested after excerpts from the author's shared social media account led to a strong protest against his depiction of child sexual abuse.
Sabuncu said legal cases against publishers had become so common that his lawyers had reviewed all the books before publication. Many publishing houses in Turkey began to self-censor to avoid any problems with the regime. Sabuncu added that he would continue to publish what he wants.
"We never do censorship in our minds," he said. "If we want to give something to society, we give it, and we don't care about the rest."
The alleged coup attempt of 2016, which the regime blamed on US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, led to a massive purge, with more than 77,000 people detained and 150,000 government employees fired.
Last month, Turkey's education minister announced that authorities had destroyed more than 300,000 books linked to the Gulen movement, alleging they were part of the regime's war against terrorism. The movement denies involvement in the coup attempt.
A report published by PEN International in 2018 found the crisis of freedom of expression in Turkey, with a 150% increase in criminal investigations of alleged attempts to undermine the constitutional order and redouble investigations into suspected crimes against the judiciary since the failed coup.
"It's not only books that are being banned, any criticism against the government, any criticism against what's going on is being banned, [including material] that's in the newspapers or on the internet," Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet columnist Zeynep Oral told the Media Line.