Prison administration bans jailed Kurdish leader’s novel for ‘obscenity’

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A prison administration in northwestern Turkey has refused to give a novel written by a jailed Kurdish politician to an inmate on the grounds that it includes obscenity, Turkish Minute reported.

Mustafa Taştan, an inmate at a prison in Bolu, was sent a copy of a novel titled “Efsun” (Spell), written by Selahattin Demirtaş.

The prison’s education board, however, decided not to give the book to Taştan.

“It was decided that the printed material should not be delivered to the inmate as the publication has obscene content and therefore, may pose a risk to security,” the board said in its decision.

Demirtaş was co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) when he was arrested in November 2016. He has been behind bars since then despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling in November 2018 that Demirtaş’s pre-trial detention was political and ordering his release. Turkish courts refused to implement the ruling, and a regional appeals court in Turkey subsequently upheld a prison sentence handed down to Demirtaş for disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Taştan stated that he would file an objection to the decision, noting that the prison administration failed to give the book to him citing unfounded justifications although the book was not a banned publication.

“The book, which bears the mark of approval of the Culture Ministry, has been arbitrarily and unlawfully withheld from me. I have made the necessary legal application and will pursue it to the end. This is an arbitrary decision and a defamatory policy,” he said.

Demirtaş is a prolific writer, having written several novels in prison.

Three books he authored — “Leylan,” “Devran” and “Seher” — were displayed among criminal “evidence” seized in a police raid in Manisa province in November 2021 although none of his books was banned in Turkey.

Demirtaş was an outspoken critic of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, before he was jailed. He ran in the presidential elections of 2014 and 2018 as a rival to Erdoğan. Demirtaş conducted his election campaign from jail for the 2018 election.

Erdoğan has accused of Demirtaş of being a “terrorist” due to his alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and has slammed calls for his release.

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