Turkish author's detention stirs NGO anger
Hürriyet Daily News
Ragıp Zarakolu was given the NOVIB/PEN Free Expression Award in 2003. DAILY NEWS photo.
The detention of prominent intellectual, author and publisher Ragıp Zarakolu on suspected charges of membership in an illegal organization have prompted a huge reaction from a variety of progressive nongovernmental organizations. Turkey Publishers’ Union, the Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD) and the Human
Rights Association (İHD) called for Zarakolu’s release after he was detained in an Oct. 29 raid for alleged involvement in the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
His detention came one day after approximately 70 people, including Marmara University academic Büşra Ersanlı, were also detained for alleged KCK involvement.
“Ragıp Zarakolu is a writer and publisher who works for the freedom of publishing and who defends the right to the freedom of expression. He has been tried dozens of times because of this stand,” a statement from the Turkish Publishers’ Union said yesterday. “We find it very wrong and believe it is fateful … for our democracy that journalists, columnists, writers and publishers are being detained through mass detentions.”
The statement also said Zarakolu’s lawyer, Özcan Kılıç, had not yet been informed about the nature of the accusations against the publisher.
ÇGD Chairman Ahmet Abakay said the detention of Zarakolu, who is also the head of the Turkey Publishers’ Union’s Freedom of Publishing Committee, was indicative of how the country’s present atmosphere was damaging press freedom and freedom of expression.
“While we are waiting for journalists and writers who are in prison to be released and for measures restricting press freedom and freedom of speech to be removed, these new detentions and arrests are unacceptable,” Abakay said. Hundreds of people, including elected mayors, are already on trial on charges of ties to the PKK.