Turkey: Ban on books in prison cells: max ten

2 April 2013

It is no longer allowed to have more than ten books in a cell in Turkey’s high-security prisons, the so-called ‘Type F prisons’ (F tipi cezaevi). Inmates and detainees who are intellectuals and political prisoners have reacted strongly against the ban on books, and they have launched an indefinite hunger strike against the decision.

The Type F prisons have often been making headlines in human rights reports, since they were established 13 years ago — because of bans, rights violations, and oppressions. Now a ban on books has been added to the list which contains over 100 different bans.

This was reported by Antenna TR’s Freedom of Expression Weekly Bulletin on 22 March 2013.

The Type F prisons are for people who have been charged with having made ‘propaganda for a terrorist organisation’, and for this reason, convicted Kurdish artists, writers and journalists — “political prisoners,” as Antenna describes them — are locked up there.

The ban was implemented in Tekirdağ #2 prison on 15 March 2013, when guards confiscated books from cells and removed them forcefully.

According to the Human Rights Association İHD other bans in the prisons are that inmates are not allowed to write verse or prose articles or stories, or draw cartoons or pictures found inappropriate by the warden of the prison. There is a strict ban on attempting to send such writings or drawing to others on the outside. Chanting slogans is also banned, and so is going on hunger strikes.

Prison administrators: fire risk
The prison authorities’ reason for the ban allegedly is that prisoners can burn themselves with books and that checking the loose papers in books is time consuming. It was not clear what was to be done with the confiscated books.
They also expressed concern for those inmates who would not hand over their material calmly, that they would be experiencing arbitrary and unlawful interventions.

The Human Rights Association İHD called for rapid and concrete steps to be taken by the Justice Ministry. They also stated that the hunger strike, which was started by the inmates as a warning against the restrictions, was said to be ended.

Police curbs book ban protest
A 25 strong group of SDP (Socialist Democracy Party) members in İstanbul wished to protest the book ban in prisons in front of the Prime Minister’s office. Following a press release, the group sat in protest, until police intervened with pepper gas and truncheons and took 15 people into custody.

“Following the assault 30 SDP members closed the road to traffic. The brawl continued for a while, and in police vehicles those in custody were battered some more. Lawyers from the Law Office for the Oppressed has called for meeting at Tekirdağ Type F #1 prison at 10:00 on 29 March in solidarity and support for the detainees, and a petition against the book ban has been launched.

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