The Zed Books Facebook page has been removed following a series of posts on books by UK-based academics critical of the Turkish government.
UPDATE May 16 (originally published May 13):
Facebook have been in contact and told us they did not remove our page. Facebook has told us we weren’t hacked but a third party who is not a Zed employee had access to administrative privileges. We’re happy to acknowledge that this is the case. We’ve asked that our page be restored.
We’ve also asked for clarification regarding Facebook’s community standards; specifically, whether we can continue to promote academic titles on the PKK, post maps and images of Kurdistan, refer to Abdullah Öcalan and make posts that may contain criticism of the Erdoğan government on Facebook.
We’ve not yet had confirmation that this content is permitted on Facebook; we’ll keep you updated as to Facebook’s response.
Zed Books are deeply concerned to learn that our Facebook page has been removed (www.facebook.com/zedbooks). This follows a series of posts on books by Ece Temelkuran, the Turkish journalist fired from Habertürk newspaper for articles critical of the Turkish government, and Dr Paul White, an academic and lecturer on political science and Middle Eastern studies.
We are concerned this is part of a growing trend of Facebook censoring free speech and restricting academic freedoms in Turkey, alongside growing repression of academics and journalists in the country. Leaked documents from Facebook have shown that the company suppresses content related to the conflict in Kurdistan, including any non-negative references to Abdullah Öcalan and even maps of Kurdistan. The Turkish government have repeatedly both blocked and banned social media in the country, as well as making hundreds of requests for takedowns. We acknowledge that we have published articles on Facebook that discuss Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK, and Kurdistan in general, as well as referred to the persecution of Ece Temelkuran, as part of our remit as publishers. Most recently these included posts about Temelkuran’s book Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy and White’s book The PKK: Coming Down from the Mountains. Temelkuran’s book is not about Kurdistan or the PKK; it is the story of modern Turkey.
We have requested further clarification from Facebook as to the reasons for our page’s removal, but have thus far received no response. However, we are worried that the removal of our company’s Facebook page may be part of a pattern of suppression against the distribution and promotion of academic research and books related to the current Turkish administration and their ongoing war with Kurdish separatists.
Zed is no stranger to censorship at the hands of repressive regimes; in 2014 our book A Kingdom in Crisis was banned in Thailand by National Police Chief General Somyot Poompanmoung as “a danger to national security and peaceful and orderly society”. However, we are increasingly worried at the suppression of academic freedoms within the UK, Europe and the US due to pressure from the Turkish government, especially following the decision to prosecute German comedian Jan Böhmermann in Germany for satirising President Erdoğan.
In 2013 Erdoğan responded to protests against his regime by saying “To me, social media is the worst menace to society”. It is worrying that Facebook appears to be complicit in suppressing freedom of speech not just in Turkey, but also within the UK and the rest of the world. We stand in solidarity with Turkish writers and academics and call on Facebook to end its collusion with the Turkish government in the suppression of academic and political freedoms.
Jo Glanville, director of the free speech advocacy organisation English PEN, says:
‘It’s essential that Facebook give an explanation as to why they have taken down the page and restore it immediately. This appears to be an extremely disturbing instance of censorship. Ece Temelkuran is a highly regarded author and journalist, one of many to have fallen foul of the increasingly authoritarian regime in Turkey. The government’s assault on social media is part of its campaign to silence the Turkish population and allow no space for civil society or the media. We are now seeing a new trend: the censoring of criticism of Turkey within Europe. It is imperative that Facebook stands firm in support of free speech.’
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, says :
‘President Erdogan’s attempts to silence his critics in Turkey are well documented. But this is a UK Facebook page for an academic publisher based in London. By removing it, Facebook is censoring academic research and debate outside of Turkey. We hope that Facebook is not facilitating attacks on free speech.’
Republished from Zed Books’ Medium page.
Source URL — https://roarmag.org/2016/05/13/facebook-removes-zed-books-page-for-critical-content/