Home Page > News Item > TURKEY – Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and 14 others released pending trial

RAN 56/11 Update #5 10 April 2012

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is pleased with today’s reports of the release of Turkish publisher and human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu. However, PEN International also remains deeply concerned that Zarakolu – who was arrested in October 2011 – still faces a lengthy trial and up to 15 years in prison. PEN reiterates its call for the immediate dropping of all charges faced by Zarakolu.

Zarakolu is one of 15 suspects accused of membership of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) who were released pending trial today. The Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court cited the length of time suspects had already been imprisoned, “the nature of their crimes” and “the state of the evidence” as reasons why they released the 15 suspects. Zarakolu had been imprisoned in a high-security facility since his arrest last year. The next hearing of his case is expected to be on 2 July.

The formal indictment for the KCK trial, made on 19 March 2012, was accepted by an Istanbul court last week. Zarakolu’s release pending trial follows an appeal made by his lawyer, Sennur Baybuğ.

178 of the 193 suspects in the KCK trial remain imprisoned, including Marmara University Professor and constitutional law expert Professor Büşra Ersanlı, who is accused of ‘leading a terrorist organisation’ and faces up to 22.5 years in prison. PEN would like to once again call for her unconditional release and continues to protest her charges and imprisonment.

Ragıp Zarakolu, was 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.

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. He was awarded the Assyrian Cultural Award in March 2012 and was nominated as a candidate for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize the previous month. He is facing trial under the Anti Terror Law (ATL) for “membership of an illegal organisation”, believed to be for a speech he made to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and articles he has written.

Ragıp Zarakolu is an honorary member of PEN Turkey, German PEN, Netherlands PEN, and San Miguel Allende PEN.

For more information go to:

Today’s Zaman: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-276981-publisher-zarakolu-among-15-released-pending-trial-in-kck-case.html

International Publisher’s Association: http://www.internationalpublishers.org/images/stories/FtP/blog/pr_10_04_12_ragip%20zarakolu.pdf.

Please send appeals:
Welcoming the release pending trial of Ragıp Zarakolu
Expressing regret that he was not freed unconditionally;
Expressing concern that Professor Büşra Ersanlı, translator Ayşe Berktay and Zarakolu’s son, Deniz Zarakolu and other writers and journalists detained because of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties remain detained
Referring to concerns that these detentions and trials 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 10 June 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