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Spotlight on the plight of Turkish publishers as IPA Prix Voltaire awarded at Göteborg Book Fair

Göteborg, 30 September 2017 – Turkey’s abysmal freedom of expression record was the focus of the international publishing industry last night as the 2017 IPA Prix Voltaire was jointly awarded to persecuted publisher and journalist Turhan Günay and shuttered Turkish publishing house Evrensel, during Göteborg Book Fair, in Sweden.

Accepting the award on behalf of her father before 500 publishing professionals and international media at a special gala ceremony, Elif Günay said ‘My father could not be here tonight because he is banned from leaving the country. He’s being punished by the oppressive regime in his own country simply for doing his job, like so many others in his profession. Being recognized internationally for the same reason is truly tremendous. I thank the IPA for recognizing my father's struggle and for giving the situation in Turkey due International focus.’

Speaking through an interpreter, Evrensel Publishing House’s Editor in Chief Cavit Nacitarhan told the audience: ‘We have always known how difficult it is to spread the truth in a country like ours, where the state holds a great grudge and rage against writers, journalists and publishers. Evrensel has been standing against this rage, struggling for the truth of this country, and publishing for better days from its beginning, for almost 30 years now. For my colleagues, and all journalists and writers in jail, I thank the IPA for this prize which encourages us to keep publishing, showing such a great solidarity and support.’

The award was presented by Norwegian publisher Kristenn Einarsson, who is Secretary General of the Norwegian Publishers Association and chair of the IPA Freedom to Publish Committee, the body that selects the Prix Voltaire’s recipient.

He said: ‘The Committee wanted to honour the courage of Turkish publishers who pursue their right to publish despite very real risks to their wellbeing and their freedom. The IPA Freedom to Publish Committee, with our partner NGOs, will continue to monitor developments in Turkey, and work with  Turhan, Elif, and Cavit to continue to raise awareness of the deteriorating free expression landscape in a country is not long the beacon of democratic progress it once was.’

The 2017 IPA Prix Voltaire’s return to the Göteborg comes 11 years after the first ‘IPA Freedom Prize’ was awarded there to Iranian publisher Shalah Lahiji, in September 2006. The prize returned to its origins following a proposal from the book fair’s organizers, who wanted to involve the IPA in the fair’s renowned freedom of expression agenda. An additional element of this was a Freedom to Publish seminar on 29 September, where Elif Günay and Cavit Nacitarhan detailed the immense challenges faced by Turkish writers, publishers and intellectuals in the wake of the failed military coup of July 2016.

About the IPA Prix Voltaire

The IPA Prix Voltaire is unique in honouring the freedom to publish, without which many forms of freedom of expression would be impossible. Publishers who provide authors with the tools to disseminate their written ideas assume the same risks as the writers themselves.

Nominees have usually published controversial works amid pressure, threats, intimidation or harassment, be it from governments, other authorities or private interests. Alternatively, they may be publishers with a distinguished record of upholding the values of freedom to publish and freedom of expression. For the purposes of the IPA Prix Voltaire, the definition of ‘publisher’ is an individual, collective or organization that provides others with the means to share their ideas in written form, including via digital platforms.

The IPA Prix Voltaire, which comes with a CHF 10,000 prize, is made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire embodies.

In 2017, the sponsors of the IPA Prix Voltaire are, in alphabetical order:

 

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