Jailed HDP co-chair Demirtaş’s storybook banned in Diyarbakir Prison

A selection of short stories written by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) jailed co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was banned by Diyarbakır prison administration for “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 new agency (ANF), 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 prison administration said the books were confiscated because it’s suspected that they may carry “uncontrollable and encrypted messages.”

The storybook, that contains twelve stories by Demirtas, instantly became a best-seller, with 90,000 copies sold in 20 days. On October 5, the publishing house announced a reprint. “I composed the stories for many days, sometimes months, in my mind. I wrote all of them late at night, before dawn,” Demirtaş told daily Evrensel.

The HDP co-leader also drew two illustrations that are printed in the book. The book’s publisher, Dipnot, has said it will also soon be made available for online orders for readers living outside Turkey.

The selection, which is 144 pages long and includes a message from Demirtaş on sexism, is made up of 12 stories mostly focusing on the troubles of women. The book is dedicated to “all murdered women and victims of violence” and most of the stories center on the trials of struggling women.

“The message I wanted to convey is for men, though the book is dedicated to women. In the book I wanted to highlight not just women’s tragedy, but men’s cruelty,” Demirtaş told Evrensel daily.

Demirtaş has been in jail since his arrest on “terror” charges in November 2016. But he has spent his time inside constructively, with paintings and writings he has produced in his cell occasionally emerging to the outside world.  The first hearing of Demirtaş’s trial has finally been set for December 7, 2017.

Turkey increased its crackdown against the Kurdish political movement following a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and arrested and removed scores of Kurdish local and national political figures. The government has been criticized for stepping up a crackdown on Kurdish politicians. There are currently 10 HDP deputies behind bars in Turkey. Trustees have been appointed to dozens of municipalities in the country’s predominantly Kurdish Southeast.

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