Ola Wallin, the IPA's new Freedom to Publish Committee Chair, has highlighted Turkey's failures to protect freedom of expression and freedom to publish, calling attention to the continued detention of Deniz Zarakolu.

Mr Wallin's statement is here, and further details are in the IPA press release.

Statement by Ola Wallin at IFRRO AGM, Istanbul, Turkey

My name is Ola Wallin. I am speaking to you as the chair of the IPA Freedom to Publish Committee, but I am also speaking on behalf of many authors and publishers and their organisations.

I would like to draw your attention to the situation of freedom of expression and freedom to publish in Turkey today.

Writers, journalists, translators and publishers working in Turkey are threatened by scores of laws and regulations, specifically the country’s Anti-Terror Laws and Penal Code articles that pretend to defend the nation’s dignity, and pretend to combat racial hatred, obscenity and defamation.

As a result of the mis-use of these laws, many journalists, writers, translators and publishers are currently in jail or facing prosecution. I would like to mention three examples that stand for many: Deniz Zarakolu, Ayse Berktay, and Nedim Şener who are all currently in jail or threatened with jail for simply exercising their human rights.

We therefore ask all authors’ and publishers’ organisations around the world to take this issue home and alert your members to the plight of their Turkish colleagues. We ask that you publicize this plight through all available media.

Finally, I would like to ask all of you here today, in this room, to express your personal support for these courageous people who are defending a secular and democratic society, by giving them a round of applause.

Thank you

 

Turkey: Stop putting writers and publishers in prison!

Ola Wallin, the new International Publishers Association (IPA) Freedom to Publish Committee Chair, has highlighted Turkey's failures to protect freedom of expression and freedom to publish.

Speaking during a fact-finding mission to Istanbul, Mr Wallin explained that Turkey’s detention and suing of a large number of writers, journalists, and publishers, in particular those held under Anti-Terror Law and Turkish Penal Code articles, violates the country’s human rights obligations.

Specifically, he called on the Turkish authorities to immediately release translator Deniz Zarakolu, who has been imprisoned for over two years, and to drop all charges against publisher Ragıp Zarakolu. Both men were arrested in October 2011 during a crackdown which saw scores of publishers, writers and journalists detained solely because of their publications. “International human rights conventions, which Turkey has ratified, give these authors and publishers the right to express their convictions freely and to write and publish without fear of incarceration or persecution. Writing and publishing are peaceful and democratic ways for all voices to contribute to the political and cultural life of society”.

Mr Wallin also drew attention to a recent Supreme Court of Appeals decision that declared French author Guillaume Apollinaire’s book, “The Exploits of Young Don Juan”, originally published in 1911, as “too explicit” for modern-day Turkey. The book’s publisher and translator, İrfan Sancı and İsmail Yerguz now face obscenity charges which carry a possible prison sentence of six to ten years. “Citizens have a right to make choices on what they read. Governments must abstain from enforcing an arbitrary moral code which excludes Turkish readers from accessing world literature.”

Mr Wallin demanded the urgent release of all of the imprisoned publishers, writers and translators mentioned in the Turkish Publishers Association’s last Freedom to Publish Turkey Report including the translator and writer Ayse Berktay, the 2013 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Writers Award recepient, and the 66 imprisoned journalists according to the latest records.

Ola Wallin said that “international human rights law requires governments to respect the choices of its citizens regarding what they want to write, publish or read. Democracy, cultural diversity and social progress require an open debate. Authors and publishers who express a diversity of views are essential for that dialogue. IPA is committed to support the fight for freedom of expression and freedom to publish in Turkey. ” International Publishers Association

Ola Wallin is the Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee. He is the cofounder and managing director of the independent Swedish publishing house Ersatz. He is the international secretary of Swedish PEN and is a passionate advocate for the freedom to publish.

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