For the first time in history, our friends in Turkey have pretty well done away with censorship of books and other reading material. Back in July, parliament passed a law that would free all banned works, provided that no court chose to uphold the ban in the meantime. Apparently no court did, so 23,000 banned works can now be legally made available for the first time. Turks, read your hearts out!
Turkey had no actual national censorship board, instead having a variety of state organs that could ban books for various reasons, often “insulting Turkishness,” which was a crime under their constitution. (Nowadays I believe the crime is “insulting the Turkish nation,” which hardly seems any better.)
Kudos for all of this, but unfortunately the Turkish government has progressed from persecuting books to persecuting writers. There are more journalists in jail in Turkey than in any other nation, just about all for writing things critical of the current regime. Many of the charges are completely frivolous and will be dismissed if the journalists ever see the inside of a court, something the government is at pains to prevent.
The regime reflexively believes that any criticism comes at the behest of the Deep State, the creepy cabal of politicians and military leaders who controlled the country during the Cold War. So they feel justified in imposing harsh measures.
Numerous alleged members of the Deep State are also in jail awaiting trial, including dozens— at one point hundreds— of officers accused of planning Operation Sledgehammer (Balyoz Harekâtı), a 2003 coup that never actually happened. (Can you— should you— be tried for a crime you planned but didn’t commit? If so, I’d be in jail for the next 500 years. I regularly plot mayhem that I don’t carry out.)
While Turks are now at liberty to read 23,000 new books, they still have a censored Internet and television. So, y’know, two cheers.
I’m not exactly a disinterested party, because my Dagmar trilogy of This Is Not a Game, Deep State, and The Fourth Wall have sold to a Turkish publisher and will soon (I hope) be delighting thousands of Turkish readers. Let’s hope they’re not too overwhelmed by their 23,000-volume reading backlog to pick up something new.