RAN 55/11 26 October 2011
The Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International is highly concerned over reports that writer, academic and translator Deniz Zarakolu was arrested on 7 October 2011 under anti-terror legislation. Although no charges have been formally declared, it is believed that he is being held as the result of his peaceful exercise of the right to free expression. The WiPC condemns the arrest without charge of Mr. Zarakolu’s and calls on the Turkish authorities to secure his immediate release.
Deniz Zarakolu was arrested on 7 October 2011. It is believed that he was arrested under anti-terror legislation after giving a lecture at the Political Science Academy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) opposition party. Such party-affiliated research academies are common in Turkey, with similar research institutes run by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The exact accusation against Zarakolu is unknown and it has been alleged that his lawyer has been denied access to documents concerning the arrest.
Zarakolu, a PhD student specialising in political thought at Bilgi University, has written a books on Thomas Hobbes and the Turkish justice system, as well as translating Hobbes’ De Cive. 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 Ayshe Nur Zarakolu, a founding member of the Belge International Publishing House, although he was later acquitted.
It has also been alleged that several other scholars linked to the BDP Political Science Academy have also been arrested under anti-terror legislation, including Aziz Tunç, Ayse Berktay and A. Dursun Yildiz.
Deniz’s father, Ragip Zarakolu, is a well known political activist who has been fighting for freedom of expression in Turkey for over 30 years, publishing books on issues such as minority and human rights. As one of the 50 writers chosen to represent the struggle for freedom of expression since 1960 for the Writers in Prison Committee’s 50th Anniversary Campaign – Because Writers Speak Their Minds – Rajip Zarakolu’s case is emblematic of the ongoing struggles many writers, publishers and freedom of expression and human rights activists in Turkey continue to face.