TURKEY - Professor Büşra Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu, formally indicted; face up to 22.5 years and 15 years imprisonment respectively.

RAN 56/11 Update #4 23 March 2012

Istanbul’s chief prosecutor has ordered the indictment of Büşra Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu this week. PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee protests the charges facing the writers and their continuing detention.

On 19 March 2012, Istanbul Public Prosecutor Adnan Çimen issued an indictment charging Professor Ersanlı with ‘leading an illegal organisation’ and publisher Zarakolu with ‘aiding and abetting an illegal organisation’. The prosecutor has demanded between 15 and 22.5 years for Ersanlı and 7.5 and 15 years for Zarakolu. The 2,400-page indictment was sent to the Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court and includes a total of 193 defendants, 147 of whom are currently under detention.

Professor Büşra Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu, were arrested on 28 October 2011. Forty one people were also arrested around the same time under what is known as the Democratic Society Congress (Koma Civaken Kurdistan – KCK) operation that has been under way since 2009, leading to several hundred, some say over 1,000, arrests and trials. The KCK is seen as its civil/political wing front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and thus also illegal.

Ersanli is an academic based at Istanbul’s Marmara University’s Faculty of Political Science and International Relations. She is an expert on constitutional law and at the time of her arrest was working with the BDP’s Constitutional Commission.

Zarakolu, is a well known publisher and political activist, who has been fighting for freedom of expression and human rights in Turkey for over 30 years. Last month he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 by Swedish Members of Parliament. He is facing trial under the ATL for “membership of an illegal organisation”, for a speech he made to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and articles he has written.

Deniz Zarakolu, an academic and translator, was also arrested under anti-terror legislation after giving a lecture at the Political Science Academy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) opposition party. He was moved to Metris prison where his father, Ragip Zarakolu, is currently being held. Several other scholars linked to the Academy have also been arrested under anti-terror legislation, including Ayşe Berktay. Berktay, a scholar, author and woman’s activist has been held on pre-trial detention since October 2011 and a formal indictment is yet to be issued.

Professor Büşra Ersanlı, Ragıp Zarakolu and Ayşe Berktay are honorary members of PEN Turkey.

For more information go to:

Hürriyet: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/prosecutor-seeks-jail-time-for-intellectuals-in-turkey.aspx?pageID=238&nID=16414&NewsCatID=338.

International Publisher’s Association blog: http://freedomforragip.wordpress.com/.

Please send appeals:

Expressing alarm at the continued detention of Ragıp Zarakolu, Professor Büşra Ersanlı, Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu and other writers and journalists detained because of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties.

Referring to concerns that the arrests flout international standards protecting the rights to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

Send appeals to:
Mr Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay

Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
Email: sadullahergin@adalet.gov.tr
Also to the Turkish ambassador in your country.

**Please contact the PEN WiPC office in London if sending appeals after 23 May 2012**

For further information please contact Sara Whyatt at PEN International PEN Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email: sara.whyatt@pen-internationalpen.org