Translated from Turkish by Translators for Justice
Turkish Publishers Association made an announcement calling for any obstacles against the freedom of publishing to be eliminated. The announcement comes after the repeal of an acquittal decision about the book “Genç Bir Don Juan’ın Maceraları” (The Exploits of Young Don Juan) published by Sel Publishing House.
(soL-Haber Agency) Turkish Publishers Association made an announcement about the repeal of an acquittal decision made about the book “The Exploits of Young Don Juan (Les exploits d’un Jeune Don Juan)” by Guillaume Apollinaire.
The announcement indicates that bans, legal cases and penalties against publications create an environment of self-censorship for publishers, and states; “We are calling on the responsible parties to take any necessary steps to remove any obstacles to the freedom of publishing and eliminate laws that serve as a barrier to that freedom.”
Here is the full text of the announcement:
During the legal case against İrfan Sancı, the owner of the Sel Publishing House, and İsmail Yerguz, the translator of the book “The Exploits of Young Don Juan” by Guillaume Apollinaire, İstanbul’s 2nd Criminal Court made an acquittal decision. According to the recent news in the press, that decision has been overturned by the 14th Criminal Division of the Supreme Court. We are saddened and concerned by this decision.
The books written by the world-renowned poet Guillaume Apollinaire are so invaluable that they have been accepted as a part of “world’s cultural heritage”. Apollinaire’s books have been translated into many languages. To judge their literary value by the courts is, to say the least, difficult to accept. Unfortunately, we have been seeing these types of cases for many years against many works of literature written by world-renown authors. These cases are based on the pretense that the literature is amoral and obscene, and they result in censorship and self-censorship of publications. The rejection of acquittal in this legal case against the book “The Exploits of Young Don Juan” is the most recent example of this type of mentality.
Bans, legal cases and resulting penalties in accordance with the 226th article of Turkish Criminal Law, that is originally intended to protect children, but widely applied to publications intended for older age groups and does not clearly define “obscenity”, is creating an environment of self-censorship for publishers. We are repeating our demand that we have voiced many times in the past. The concept of “obscenity”, that is used as a pretense to ban many invaluable literary works from reaching its audience, should be clearly defined; the 226th article should be revised; and the legal cases which are initiated due to the reports from “The Committee to Protect Children from Obscene Publications”, and which hurt the freedom of publishing should come to an end.
Another work of literature from Apollinaire published in 1999, “Les Onze Mille Verges ou Les Amours d’un Hospodar” was also seized and the publisher was found guilty. The European Court of Human Rights examined the case after an application claiming that this decision violated freedom of speech, right to fair trial and right of possession. The Court found Turkey guilty of these counts and awarded the applicant.
We condemn Supreme Court’s degrading statements about this work of literature and the position it has taken against the expert report prepared by the academics and use of these as a basis for the repeal decision. A court examining the literary value of the works of world-renowned writers and poets, making a seizure decision and prosecution of publishers and translators, are not things that you can find in a country governed by democracy and the rule of law.
We are calling on the responsible parties to take any necessary steps to remove any obstacles to the freedom of publishing and eliminate laws that serve as a barrier to that freedom.