Authorities ban ‘The Little Prince’, ‘Peter Pan’ in Turkish prisons

Turkish authorities have reportedly prohibited “Robinson Crusoe”, “The Little Prince”, “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves”, “Peter Pan” and “Tom Sawyer” in Turkish prisons, according to a report by online news portal TR724 on Saturday.

It was reported that a prisoner, who has been kept in in Diyarbakır Type D Closed High Security Prison, was rejected to be given the books like “Robinson Crusee”, “The Little Prince”, “Ali Baba and Forty Thieves”, “Peter Pan”, “Tom Sawyer” over a pretext that they could ‘jeopardize the security of the prison.”

The authorities of the Prison Directorate have explained their reasoning by saying that “The publications included in the attached list, which have been coming from out of the prison, have been decided anonymously to be not delivered to the prisoners because it was understood that these books could be used as means of encrypted and uncontrolled communication with the prisoners and the convicts who have been charged with terror crimes and, thus, could threaten the security of the institution.”

Previously the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) jailed co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş’s book “Seher — Dawn” and Yeni Asya daily’s jailed editor Naciye Nur Ener‘s recently released book over human rights violations in Turkey in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 have been prohibited in Turkish prisons.

A selection of short stories written by Demirtaş was banned by Diyarbakır Prison administration for allegedly “including encrypted messages.” A storybook titled “Seher (Dawn)”, which has been written by Demitaş in Edirne Prison, was published on September 16. According to a report by pro-Kurdish Fırat news agency, İhsan Uğur, imprisoned co-mayor of Hizan district of Bitlis province, was transferred from Elazığ Prison to Diyarbakir D Type Prison on October 2. The Diyarbakır Prison’s administration has reportedly confiscated Ugur’s books, which included Demirtaş’s “Seher.”

The book titled “Üç Dal Papatya — Three Sprigs of Daisies”, which was published by the Yeni Asya Publications, compiled the letters from the victims who were dismissed from their duties, detained and jailed over their alleged links to the Gülen movement following July 15 coup attempt.

In order to make the voice of the victims of Turkish government’s massive human rights violations heard, journalist Naciye Nur Ener had began to compile the letters to publish as a book. However journalist Eren was also detained by Turkish government on March 5, 2017 over her alleged use of ByLock mobile phone messaging application and later jailed over the same accusation. Her colleagues have completed the unfinished book and published as she is still in prison.

Turkish authorities believe that ByLock is a communication tool among followers of the Gülen movement. Tens of thousands of people, including civil servants, police officers, soldiers, businessmen and homemakers, have either been dismissed or arrested for using ByLock since the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by the SCF has showed that 242 journalists and media workers are in jails as of December 30, 2017, most in pre-trial detention languishing in notorious Turkish prisons without even a conviction. Of those in Turkish prisons, 215 are arrested pending trial, only 27 journalists remain convicted and serving time in Turkish prisons. An outstanding detention warrants remain for 139 journalists who live in exile or remain at large in Turkey.

Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down more than 180 media outlets after the controversial coup attempt.

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