“Blocking a website selling books shows the extent of possible bans”
Turkey on Wednesday has blocked access to the publishing house Avesta’s website for allegedly making terrorist propaganda.
Considering the decision as “terrifying”, Abdullah Keskin, the owner of Avesta which publishes Kurdish books since 1995 said “Look what’s the authorities are onto, at a time when all of our eyes and ears are on the thousands of people under the rubble.”
“If a publisher's website, which consists of only book promotion and selling can be banned, it means that there is nothing that would not be banned or closed to access,” Keskin told Serbestiyet on Thursday.
Most recently publishing a Kurdish translation of James Joyce's Ulysses, many of Avista’s books have been banned and the administrators of the publishing house have been sued over those books, since its establishment.
“We are used to our books to be banned, but at least in the past there was a judiciary process. There’s no such thing anymore,” Keskin said.
Keskin said 16 books published by Avesta were banned within the last three years.
“However, it is a brand new situation that our website, which contains only book promotions was blocked to access,” he said.
“In the file regarding the decision, there is also a personal tweet of mine that was posted back in 2016. Look what’s the authorities are onto, at a time when all of our eyes and ears are on the thousands of people under the rubble. They’re doing a retrospective social media scan. Moreover, my tweet, which they blocked from access as well, is a tweet criticizing the organization [PKK]. There is nothing in it that could be a criminal element. This sounds even more terrifying. I think the blockade of the website shows the extent of possible bans,” Keskin said.
“If a publisher's website, which consists of only book promotion and selling can be banned, it means that there is nothing that would not be banned or closed to access. As if this was the first wave, I had a feeling that it would follow. I hope I'm wrong,” he said.
Keskin blamed the authorities of trying to change the people’s agenda after the devastating earthquakes.
“Thousands of people were trapped under the rubble. Hundreds of people died of cold and starvation in the aftermath of the earthquakes. They did not intervene to the situation properly and in a timely manner. Of course they don't want people to talk about this,” he said.
Emphasizing that they had no affiliation with any organization or a political party, “We have always protected ourselves and our business against such things. We have never taken a position on ideological issues. We have always strived to be a publishing house that produces objective information which is needed by everyone,” Keskin said.
Avesta Publications on Wednesday was blocked by the 4th Criminal Court in capital Ankara for allegedly making propaganda of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Rejecting the accusations in a statement, "Avestakitap.com shares nothing but the promotion and sale of our books. Banning books is a de facto censorship, which is unacceptable," the publishing house said.
Avesta was founded in 1995 and has published over 700 books, mostly in Kurdish and Turkish.
Avesta received the Freedom of Thought Award from the Turkish Publishers Association in 2019 and was nominated for the Voltaire Award from the World Publishers Association in 2020.