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Turkey: Inmates banned from accessing, reading certain publications in prison

This statement was originally published on bianet.org on 24 November 2014.

Nine media outlets released a joint statement to protest a ban on reading and accessing certain publications in Turkey's prisons. The ban includes all periodicals received by inmates via mail or through visitors.

The statement was made at the Human Rights Association (IHD) headquarters located in downtown in Istanbul and signed by the following media outlets: Atılım, Halkın Günlüğü, Kızıl Bayrak, Mücadele Birliği, Özgür Gelecek, Siyaset, Türkiye Gerçeği, Barikat Dergisi and Yarın.

The meeting was attended by Semiha Şahin from Atılım newspaper, Mehmet Ali Karabulut from Kızılbayrak, Neriman Çelik from IHD's Prison Commission, inmate relative Gülşah Tağaç, advocate Sezin Uçar and Arzu Demir from the Journalist's Union of Turkey (TGS).

No official order

Speakers of the event noted that the ban has been imposed in early November. According to information obtained from inmates' letters and visitor sessions, authorities based the ban on Justice Ministry ruling Number 172740 dated on 10 November 2014.

However, no such order was available, claimed the speakers.

They also added that various prisons based the ban on reasons associated with helping the “continuation of order in prison” [in Tekirdağ High Security Prison] and cutting the communication between inmates and “illegal” organizations [in Sincan Prison].

The statement also underlined that the ban targeted silencing “revolutionary, socialist and dissident” press by obstructing the revolutionary prisoners from dissident publications.

Why a ban?

Advocate Sezin Uçar said that their efforts to obtain the aforementioned ruling from the Justice Ministry yielded no results.

“If we [find] the ruling,” she continued, “we will take legal actions for its suspension.”

Recalling last year's book limitations and their suspension after inmate protests, Uçar added that inmates are as reactant to this ban.

Arzu Demir from TGS said that the ban concerned the right to obtain information and news.

“We will be on the chase,” she said.

Gülşah Tağaç, a relative of an inmate, on the other hand, compared the ban with practices during Turkey's Military Coup in 1980 and said: “Why this ban?”

“[Authorities] already put them between 4 walls. They could only read a limited selection of books. It is not a solution to take those from them. We can't [get] anywhere with bans.”

Neriman Çelik from IHD underlined that they were unable to track down such a ban order on periodicals in prisons.

“Arbitrary bans resume in Turkey's prisons,” she said. (BK/BM)

Click here to read the article in Turkish
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