Sale of Demirtaş works slammed in wake of new book release

Başak Demirtaş, the wife of Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş, has sparked a controversy for attending a play adapted from one of her husband's books along with opposition party members. Following the play, a debate arose over Demirtaş's book being sold on the Postal Service website.

Duvar English

Jailed former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş's literary works have raised public attention.

A play that is an adaptation of his story book "Devran" or "Fate" debuted on Jan. 11. Demirtaş's wife attended the opening performance along with members of the HDP and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Demirtaş's presence at the play was perceived as a demonstration against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) by AKP deputy chair Hamza Dağ. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had already told former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş he "couldn't wash the blood off his hands with theater."

Following the controversy over Demirtaş's book adaptation, the sale of Demirtaş's two books on the Turkish Post website drew widespread criticism.

Author and journalist Nedim Şener made a social media post about the government institution's sale of "Devran" and "Seher."

"Slowly, with books and music and theater you will adapt. You will try to cover your face with your red hands when you remember our martyrs and ask yourself 'What am I applauding?' But it will be too late," Şener said.

Following the controversy, Demirtaş's books were taken off sale from the postal service website, while a book detailing the Gülen Organization remained on sale. "Gülen Hareketi" or "Gülen Movement" refers to the main suspect for the 2016 coup attempt as a "moderate Islamic movement" and Fethullah Gülen as a "liberal clergyman."

Amid the debate, Demirtaş's books came into sale on the Istanbul Municipality (IBB) website.

Youth Union of Turkey, a youth organization affiliated with the nationalist Patriotic Party, protested the sale of Demirtaş's books on the IBB website by referring to his ties with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) - a group designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

"IBB shelves can not be the PKK's bookshelves!" their sign read.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said on Jan. 14 that Demirtaş's books were sold everywhere, including government institutions and pro-regime bookstores.

"It very well could be. It should be. Moreover, it is this country's courts that will decide whether a book is banned or not," İmamoğlu said.

Meanwhile, numerous publishing houses have shown public support for the upcoming release of Demirtaş's first novel "Leylân" on Jan. 22 with DipNot Publishing.

"Some debates over Selahattin Demirtaş's unpublished book seem to exceed the boundaries of freedom of thought and expression, and the right to spread it," said a social media post by Avesta Publishing.

Meanwhile, Notabene Publishing said that they "must defend ideas and books against a wave of attacks that will expand and generalize."