Two court cases are pending for a hearing at Istanbul’s Second Penal Court of Peace. In each case proceedings are started against a Turkish publisher and a translator of a recently published foreign literary work:

  • publishing house Sel Yayınları and translator Mr Süha Sertabiboğlu will be prosecuted for the publication/translation of the novel The Soft Machine (http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/legal-investigations-concerning-turkish-translation-of-william-burroughs-novel-the-soft-machine) (Yumuşak Makine) by the American novelist William Burroughs;
  • publishing house Ayrıntı Yayınları and translator Ms Funda Uncu will be prosecuted for the publication/translation of the novel Snuff (Ölüm Pornosu) by the American novelist Chuck Palahniuk.

(http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Burroughs NULL.png)

As part of the legal investigations, the public prosecutor requested an expertise for both novels from the Prime Ministry’s Council for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications; the Council deemed both novels obscene. Subsequently, court cases were initiated against the publishers and translators concerned. They are charged with the violation of article 226 of the Turkish Penal Code for distributing books that do not comply with moral norms, hurt people’s feelings and abuse feelings of sexual desire.

In June 2010, the same court prosecuted publishing house Sel Yayınları and translator Mr İsmail Yerguz for publishing/translating novels that were deemed obscene by the same Council for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications. The books in question were: Les exploits d’un jeune Don Juan (Genç bir Don Juan’ın Maceraları by Guillaume Apollinaire, Correspondance d’une bourgeoise avertie (Görgülü ve Bilgili bir Burjuva Kadının Mektupları) by P.V, and Perinin Sarkacı by the Turkish author Ben Mila. In the third hearing (December 2010), both the publisher and the translator were acquitted of charges (http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/turkish-translator-and-publisher-discharged/).

Together with this year’s court cases, six different novels have been filed for prosecution in the course of just one year.

(http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Palahniuk NULL.png)

In a reaction, the Turkish translators’ association Çevbir considers “opening court cases against novels that address adults on the grounds that they are harmful for children, an unacceptable violation of the freedom of expression. It is evident that the novels at stake do not address children, that they are not published as ‘children’s literature’ and that they will not be presented as such. Therefore, their legal prosecution is the manifestation of a prohibiting mentality which will consider any means possible to interfere with the citizens’ cultural and social life.”

The first hearing concerning the case of William Burroughs’ Yumuşak Makine, will be held on 6 July 2011, 9.30 am at Istanbul’s Second Penal Court of Peace in Sultanahmet.

For further information on the court cases:

  • integral expertise (http://www NULL.sabitfikir NULL.com/haber/iste-olum-pornosu-raporunun-tamami) by the Prime Ministry’s Council for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications (‘Muzır Kurulu’) on Ölüm Pornosu (in Turkish);
  • English newspaper article (http://www NULL.hurriyetdailynews NULL.com/n NULL.php?n=controversial-books-translator-detained-2011-06-08) on the police treatment of Ms Funda Uncu, translator of Ölüm Pornosu.

CEATL has expressed its concern by sending letters to the Turkish ministries of Justice (http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/2011-07-01-Turkish-Minister-of-Justice NULL.pdf) and of Culture and Tourism (http://www NULL.ceatl NULL.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/2011-07-01-Turkish-Minister-of-Culture NULL.pdf).

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