Police in Turkey raid publisher’s offices, confiscate 2,000 books

A selection of books from Belge Publishing include works on the Armenian Genocide, Kurdish issue and Capitalism.

Police in Turkey raided the offices of Belge Publishing in Istanbul and confiscated 2,000 books, reported Turkish language media.

The prominent independent publisher, set up 40 years ago by writer-journalist Ragip Zarakolu and his late wife human rights advocate Aysenur Zarakolu, and known for publishing controversial and critical books, was raided by a team of anti-terror police on Sunday.

According to reports, the offices were raided on allegations of ties to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKPC). However police officials said the publisher, which has been raided countless times over the years, was selling books without the necessary permission.

Police confiscated books entitled “Stateless Kurds” and “Decisions more difficult than death” saying they were banned in the country, as well as several titles published in the 1980s and 1990s, without giving a reason, Dihaber news agency reported.

At least 2,000 books were confiscated while a member of staff, Mehmet Ali Varis, was detained and later released after questioning.

The publisher had also released in March 2017, “The unwritten memoirs of Recep Tayyip Erdogan”, a satirical take on the life of Turkey’s president.

Criticising the raid and confiscation of books, opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Garo Paylan tweeted in Turkish saying, “Belge Publishing has documented the crimes in Turkey’s history. At least read the books you have confiscated.”

Turkish authorities have been heavily criticised for censorship of the media and recently blocked access to online encyclopedia Wikipedia.