Released Turkish publisher beginning protest of silence

Released Turkish publisher beginning protest of silence

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Released Turkish publisher beginning protest of silence

Prominent publisher Ragıp Zarakolu carries his books with his lawyer, Şennur Baybuğa, after being released from prison after months in jail on the terror-related charges. AA photo

Ragıp Zarakolu, a Nobel Peace Prize candidate, publisher and activist who was recently released from prison after months of incarceration on terrorism-related charges, is beginning a protest of silence to avoid being used to normalize Turkey’s “abnormal” justice system.

“Every single statement I make will serve to normalize this abnormal situation. Just like my unfair arrest, my unexpected and pointless release will also [help to] create the impression among the world public that [authorities] had committed a mistake which they are now retracting from,” the publisher told the Hürriyet Daily News in an email interview. 

The Nobel candidate said he was now beginning a protest of silence and that he would not speak to any other press organs following the Daily News’ interview. 

“Any comments I will make from now on will serve to normalize this abnormal situation,” he said.

“For as long as the laws in question continue to remain in effect, the freedom of thought will consist of nothing but a fat lie. It is now possible to jail people [based on] conspiracy theories,” he said. 

The publisher said his release had not alleviated the current lawless situation in Turkey and added that he felt like a hostage. 

A life of struggle

Ragıp Zarakolu also spoke about his father, a former district governor of the Princes’ Islands off of Istanbul’s coast in the Marmara Sea. Remzi Zarakolu was retired during his peak years due to his oppositional stance and did not live much longer after that, Ragıp Zarakolu said. 

“My uncle Zeki Zarakolu, an airman, died at the age of 49 due to heart failure, as he could not take the 1960 coup. They raided my home during the March 12 [1971] coup to [arrest] me. My life passed in between jails and courtrooms, and as if that was not enough, they consumed the life of Ayşe [Nur Zarakolu], in between prison [walls]. She never took a step back from what she knew to be right, and I lost her at a young age because of cancer,” he said. 

Zarakolu’s younger son, Cihan Deniz Zarakolu, was arrested in mid-October in connection with the lectures he gave at the Politics Academy of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) only a few weeks prior to his father’s arrest. The younger Zarakolu was arrested within the scope of the probe into the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He was initially jailed at the Edirne F-Type Prison in northwestern Turkey. 

“As a family, we paid our dues in every period. As if all that was not enough, my son Deniz was taken into custody due to a speech he gave at his mother’s grave [in 2002]. Am I now glad because they released me? No. I had to leave my son behind the iron bars of the cell I shared with him,” Ragıp Zarakolu said. 
Ragıp Zarakolu was arrested in connection with the same probe for a speech he delivered Nov. 1 during the commencement of the BDP’s Politics Academy. Deniz Zarakolu, who was also forced to abandon his Ph.D. studies at university, was later transferred to the same high-security prison as his father in the Kandıra district of the northwestern province of Kocaeli upon their request. 

“I shared the same destiny with my son. We continue paying the price for the values we believe in from one generation to the next, from father to son,” Ragıp Zarakolu said.

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