IPA Calls for Immediate Release of Publishers and Writers in Turkey
Geneva, 24 May 2013 – As the next hearing of the trial of RagÄ±p and Deniz
Zarakolu opens on 27 May, the International Publishers Association (IPA)
continues to urge the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against both
publishers and release Deniz Zarakolu, who has been detained for close to
600 days without a verdict, immediately.
Publishers RagÄ±p and Deniz Zarakolu were among more than 40 people arrested
in October 2011 under the then Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK) investigation,
a crackdown on pro-Kurdish circles, which has seen scores of writers,
journalists, and publishers detained following thousands of arrests over
the past two years.
IPA believes that RagÄ±p and Deniz Zarakolu, and several other writers
intellectuals, including academic BüÅ=9Fra ErsanlÄ±, linguist Mulazim Ozcan,
writers Aziz Tunc and AyÅ=9Fe Berktay, are charged solely because of their
publications, which violates Turkey’s international human rights
Deniz Zarakolu, a publisher, writer, translator, and PhD student
specializing in political science at Bilgi University, is charged with
`being a member of an illegal organisation’ and risks up to twelve years in
prison if found guilty. He was arrested on 7 October 2011, and has detained
ever since, after giving a lecture at the Political Science Academy of the
pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) opposition party. This party is
legal, and such party-affiliated research academies are common in Turkey.
His father, iconic publisher RagÄ±p Zarakolu, is charged with `aiding and
abetting an illegal organisation’ and is threatened with up to fifteen
years in prison. He was released on 10 April 2012 following 160 days spent
in a high security prison on pre-trial detention. He risks between 7.5 and
15 years in prison.
IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee Chair, Bjørn Smith-Simonsen commented:
`Deniz and RagÄ±p Zarakolu are outspoken, peaceful publishers.
their publishing activity encourages the violent pursuit of political
agendas is a violation of their human rights. IPA therefore urges the
Turkish authorities to drop all charges against Deniz and RagÄ±p Zarakolu as
soon as possible, and calls on the Turkish authorities to secure the
immediate release of Deniz who spent close to 600 days in prison without a
`Turkey is a signatory of international human rights treaties and is
therefore under the obligation to observe individuals’ human rights. IPA
remains concerned that these rights will be denied to the Zarakolus, and
several other intellectuals, including BüÅ=9Fra ErsanlÄ± and AyÅ=9Fe Berktay, who
are also defendants in the KCK case. The definition of terrorism in
Turkey’s Anti-Terrorism Law (ATL) should be seriously narrowed so as to put
an end to abuses’.
Deniz Zarakolu wrote books on Thomas Hobbes and the Turkish justice system.
He also translated Hobbes’ De Cive (`On the Citizen’). He worked at the
Belge publishing house. He had previously been arrested and charged with
`inciting revenge or hatred’ over a speech he gave in 2002
at the funeral
of his mother AyÅ=9Fe Nur Zarakolu, a founding member of the Belge publishing
house, although he was later acquitted.
In June 2012, the 29th IPA Congress adopted a resolution `rejecting the
abuse of broad definitions of terms such as defamation, state security,
state secrecy, or terrorism as dangerous inroads for censorship, harassment
of the media, and undemocratic influencing (…)’. Sadly, Turkey’s strict
anti-terror legislation (ATL) illustrates the resolution above only too
well. The broadness of ATL has allowed the Turkish authorities to curtail
the freedom of expression of many in Turkey, including publishers who have
for a long time advocated freedom to publish for all publishers and
writers. This is particularly true of the Zarakolus. The definition of
terrorism in Article 1 of ATL should be narrowed and several other
provisions of ATL should be either repealed (Article 6/2) or amended
The various cases against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) are
ongoing. In Istanbul there are two KCK cases, including the KCK Press Case
where all of the defendants are journalists or media workers and the
evidence against them is strictly related to their normal, daily
journalistic activities. 44 people have been charged, 24 of them are still
in prison. The next hearing is scheduled for 17-19 June 2013 in Silivri. In
the other Istanbul case, concerning the Zarakolus, a total of 205
defendants are standing trial. The next hearing is scheduled for 27 May-7
June 2013 in Silivri.
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