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Book of poetry by jailed Kurdish politician banned for promoting ‘terrorism’

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A Turkish court has banned the publication, distribution and sale of a poetry book written by a Kurdish politician who has been behind bars since November 2016, the Gazete Duvar news website reported.

The book, “Yıkılacak Duvarlar” (Walls to be Demolished), was written by Figen Yüksekdağ, a former co-chairperson of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and published in 2020 by Ceylan Publications.

A court in the southern province of Antalya in a recent decision ordered the collection of copies of the book in addition to banning it on the grounds that one of the poems praised the activities of an armed terrorist organization, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and its militants.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, the PKK has been waging a decades-long war against the Turkish state that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

Ceylan Publications in a statement on Thursday slammed the court’s ruling on Yüksekdağ’s book, saying her poems have already gone beyond the walls of the prison.

Yüksekdağ was first arrested along with a number of other Kurdish politicians in November 2016 in a sweeping crackdown on the HDP. Including Selahattin Demirtaş, the other former HDP co-chairperson, they face terrorism charges in several trials, which many say are politically motivated.

Since a failed coup in Turkey in July 2016, a growing number of books have been outlawed and confiscated, with some even considered evidence for certain crimes, which has led to great concern among publishers, authors and readers.

At least 30 publishing houses have been closed by government decrees in the post-coup era, while more than 670 books have been confiscated for allegedly serving as “propaganda of a terrorist organization.”

Another 135,000 books have been banned from public libraries on the same or similar grounds.

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