Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Turkish Journalist Exposes Frustration of Kurdish War Writer Could Face Prison Sentence

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Turkish Journalist Exposes Frustration of Kurdish War Writer Could Face Prison Sentence

Article excerpt

ANKARA, Turkey -- Journalist Nadire Mater publicly exposed Turkey's open secret, writing a book that details the horrors and frustrations faced by young recruits battling Kurdish guerrillas for the past 15 years.

But the success of Mehmet's Book, a series of interviews with 42 soldiers, was shortlived.

Prosecutors banned the book last month, saying it "insulted the armed forces." Copies of the book, which sold a respectable 14,000 copies in Turkey, were confiscated from the publishing house.

If Mater is charged and convicted of insulting the army, she could face up to six years in prison.

The government's crackdown was hardly a surprise and provoked little reaction in Turkey.

Dozens of journalists and intellectuals already have been jailed for crimes such as calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict, a statement the courts consider to be propaganda that aids the rebels.

Turks often speak privately of the difficulties faced by soldiers, but Mater's book was one of the few times that the doubts of soldiers critical of the war have been publicly aired.

Turkish media frequently features stories on the chivalry and heroism of soldiers battling Kurdish guerrillas. Soldiers interviewed on television often say they would gladly return to fight.

"When it comes to learning the realities of what those close to the war lived through . . . we face a thick wall," Mater said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press last week.

Breaching that wall was a goal of the book.

"I wanted to get society to hear the voice of those . . . who are the subject of the war, to get people to look at the war from where they stood," Mater wrote in the preface of her book.

Mehmet's Book -- Mehmet is an affectionate name for Turkish soldiers -- lets the soldiers tell their stories in a series of detailed interviews. …

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