Kurdish publishing houses shunned by Istanbul's city-run bookstores

Istanbul Bookseller, a network of six city-owned bookstores that runs under the roof of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB), does not sell Kurdish-language books at any of its locations. One publisher said he was told by the store that there are 'sensitivities' surrounding the sale of books in Kurdish or about Kurds, while another publisher said this situation is a "violation of Kurdish readers’ rights."

Ferhat Yaşar / Duvar

Istanbul Bookseller, a network of sixcity-owned bookstores, does not offer Kurdish-language books at anyof its locations, and one publisher said he was told by the storethat there are 'sensitivities' surrounding the sale of books inKurdish or about Kurds.

While Kurdish books were available on the Istanbul Bookseller's website, there were usually limited to just a few selections. Some 70 of the 400 titles from publisher Nubihar were listed, but only 10 were Kurdish, while 36 books from the publisher Na were in stock though just two were Kurdish. Not a single title was available from an additional eight Kurdish publishers.

Officials from the IstanbulMetropolitan Municipality (İBB) did not respond to Duvar's requestfor comment.

Lal Laleş, owner of the Nis publishinghouse, said the city should meet the needs of all of its readers.

“This is one of the fundamentalduties of the municipality. We are talking about an Istanbul wherethere are millions of Kurdish speakers. The inclusion of Kurdish inthe Istanbul Bookseller is essentially a requirement of itsresponsibility to the residents of Istanbul. It is a problem to besolved, and is in fact a violation of Kurdish readers' rights,”Laleş said.

Avesta chief editor Abdullah Keskinsaid that his books were sold by Istanbul Bookseller even in the1990's, but that they noticed several months ago that none werecurrently available. After two attempts to contact the citybookstore, Keskin was told that there were 'a number ofsensitivities' that prevented Istanbul Bookseller from stockingAvesta's books.

“They don't need to work directlywith us or purchase from us, we are not making such a demand. We justwant our books to be available on the website. We are a publishinghouse based in Istanbul for 25 years. We have more than 700 books andnot a single one of them can be found at Istanbul Bookseller,”Keskin said.

“They can be Kurdish or Turkish. Halfof our books are in Turkish. Kurdish is the second mostcommonly-spoken language in this city. No results were achieved fromall the attempts made. Despite knowing about this, the İBB has nottaken a positive step on this issue.”

Nubihar publishing house chief editor Süleyman Çevik noted that Istanbul is often said to be the city with the largest population of Kurds.

“Not providing a place for studies carried out regarding Kurds or the banning of Kurdish cultural activities in such a city is a very grave matter. Everybody says that the current [Republican People's Party-led] CHP municipality was elected with the votes of the Kurds. Without the Kurds, they would have had no chance at winning,” Çevik said.

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