Alison Flood | Guardian,
Thursday 2 August 2012 »»
Η δίκη για την έκδοση του Yumuşak Makine [The Soft Machine] αναβλήθηκε, αλλά οι εκδόσεις Σελ δηλώνουν αποφασισμένες να προχωρήσουν το εκδοτικό τους πρόγραμμα.
The Turkish publisher facing obscenity charges for releasing a translation of a William Burroughs novel has vowed not to be intimidated by an Istanbul court's decision to postpone the trial, despite the "sword of Damocles" which now hangs over its head.
Sel Publishing House put out a Turkish translation of Burroughs’ The Soft Machine, which features "hanged soldiers, North African street urchins, addicted narcotics agents, Spanish rent boys, evil doctors [and] corrupt judges", all laid out in Burroughs' famous "cut-up" technique, last January. Accused of furthering “attitudes that were permissive to crime by concentrating on the banal, vulgar and weak attributes of humanity”, the publisher was first put on trial last summer, but a decision was taken last month in Istanbul to postpone the trial until 2015 due to the implementation of a new law.
Sel was also told that if it publishes further “obscene” works in the meantime, they will be added to the case. Ayrıntı Publishing House, which was on trial for its publication of Chuck Palahniuk's Snuff, was told the same thing.
Both PEN International and the International Publishers Association have hit out at the decision to postpone. "Most observers had been expecting the trial to follow the usual pattern of Turkish 'obscenity' trials: a report compiled by a panel of academics declaring a novel as 'literature', prompting an acquittal from the judge. [But] despite the presence of just such an expert report, the judge revealed that he was obliged by law to postpone the trial for three years due to new legislation ratified the night before," they said in a statement. "Not only does it elongate an already lengthy judicial process, it also intimidates publishers, and indeed any others who may consider publishing, by delivering them a direct warning that any subsequent works will be prosecuted."
Sara Whyatt, director of the Writers in Prison committee at PEN International, called the result "chilling", adding in a blog: "How long will the Turkish reader have the freedom to read what their friends in Europe can buy? I have met brave, feisty writers, publishers and translators here in Turkey who will take on this challenge and not be intimidated, but how many others will decide that this is not a risk that they want or are able to take?"
Bilge Sanci, executive editor at Sel, vowed that “the decision means nothing for us in the terms of our publishing policy. We will continue to publish the books that we intend to publish and we will stick to our schedule.”
Turkish readers “have to right to read Burroughs or any other writers in the world,” she said. "And this can't be stonewalled by any decision of any governmental institution. In the world of today where any information or work of art can be easily spread, trying to do this will serve no purpose but make you be ridiculed."
But she called the law amendment the “sword of Damocles” for publishers. “Present laws, especially anti-terror laws, are posing enough obstacles to freedom of speech already and this adds a new segment to present oppression mechanisms,” she said.