Ragip Zarakolu, A Man Of Vision

By Sofia Kontogeorge Kostos

Greek News, New York
May 15 2006

Ragip Zarakolu, the Turkish publisher and writer wrote, “We have
to learn from history and avoid denying the past tragedies, which
should cause shame in us. Otherwise, history is bound to repeat
itself.” He believes that the fight for freedom of expression can only
be accomplished from within Turkish borders and not from the outside.

For thirty years, Ragip Zarakolu owner of the Belge Publishing House
has been translating and printing into Turkish, books that break
the barriers of silence instilled by the Turkish Government-the
perpetrators of the Genocides of the Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians
of Turkey.

In spite of perpetual harassments Zarakolu perseveres in his struggle,
for freedom of expression. With unwavering conviction he says, “….Not
for the Armenians or any others – but for citizens of Turkey.” He adds,
“We must face these realities to become a real democratic country. We
are giving a struggle for this, to give light to the dark pages of
our history.”

Over the years:

1. His presses and his publications offices were fire bombed and

2. He and his late wife were collectively imprisoned for 5 years.

3. Their books were confiscated and banned.

4. He is repeatedly fined and tried.

5. On June 21st, 2006, he faces his eighth trial-with one exception,
he must appear in court with a historian whose name remains undisclosed
at this time.

If Ragip Zarakolu is found guilty, he faces 13.5 years imprisonment
for printing and distributing the Turkish translation of the following
two books:

1: Prof. Dr. Dora Sakayan’s book is a compilation of her Grandfather’s
meticulous journals of the heart pounding accounts of the destruction
of Smyrna and his ensuing escape starting from August 28th 1922
and ending in Salonika on June 1st 1923. Dora Sakayan’s book, “An
Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal in
1922,” is both informative and compelling. It has been translated
into nine languages that include Greek and Turkish.

2: In George Jerjian’s “The Truth Will Set Us Free,” he brilliantly
and convincingly offers ideas on how Turkey can break out of its
straightjacket of denials in order to create a better future. He
includes a surprising and heartwarming introduction by former Sen.
Bob Dole.

In addition to the 39 books regarding the Genocides of the Greeks,
Mr. Zarakolu has published books on the Genocides of the Armenians,
Kurds, and of the Massacre of the Jews in Russia. Indeed Ragip Zarakolu
is man of vision and a giant amongst us.



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