September 17, 2014

Witch hunt extends to publishing houses

An ongoing campaign against groups believed to be critical of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has stretched to the publishing sector, with the government -- albeit covertly -- punishing some publication houses by not granting them ISBN numbers for some works.

Among these publication houses is İstanbul-based Zambak Publishing, a supplier of educational tools such as language learning sets and publications for preschool, elementary and secondary school students.

According to İsmail İzinli, product manager at Zambak Publishing, the increasing pressure on publishing houses will carry the publishing sector backwards. “The publishing sector in Turkey grows roughly 15 percent every year despite a worldwide downward trend. But the sector is currently in trouble due to increasing pressure and profiling activities,” İzinli told Today's Zaman.

The manager complained that some false reports have been circulating in the pro-government media that aim to hamper the activities of certain publishing houses. “These reports are part of a smear campaign. They do not reflect the truth. We [Zambak Publishing] shape our policies based on the demands of families and students. The smear campaign will fail to attain its objectives,” he noted.

One such report recently appeared in the Yeni Şafak daily. It claimed that some publication houses linked to the faith-based Hizmet movement made undeserved profits of TL 800 million in 2013. The daily referred to these publishing houses as elements of the “parallel structure,” a reference some AK Party government officials use for the Hizmet movement. The daily did not provide any proof to support its claim.

According to İzinli, Zambak Publishing operates within the law and has never been involved in any illegal activity, including tax evasion.

He also said the government's pressure on publishing houses is reminiscent of practices in third world countries. “If you [the government] put pressure on the publishing sector, students will gradually lose their chance to learn more. This will, inevitably, drag Turkey into a league of third world countries. In developed countries the private sector is supported by the state,” he stated.

İzinli also said Zambak Publishing will fight the growing pressure on the publishing sector within the boundaries of the law.

Published on Today's Zaman, 17 September 2014, Wednesday