Turkish intellectuals protest arrest of publisher

Turkish intellectuals protest arrest of publisher

Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish intellectuals protest arrest of publisher

A group of intellectuals and academics protested Ragıp Zarakolu’s arrest. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

A group of intellectuals staged a rally in front of the Beşiktaş Courthouse yesterday to protest the recent arrest of prominent publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and Professor Büşra Ersanlı on terrorism-related charges, while international organizations also condemned the arrests.

“[Ragıp Zarakolu] is a tireless person and minority rights activist. Up to now, his quest for truth, reconciliation and justice has been unstoppable. This man does not belong in prison, he deserves a Nobel prize,” said Bjorn Smith-Simonsen, who issued a press release on behalf of the Geneva-based International Publishing Association.

The arrests of the publisher and professor, who were among dozens of people rounded up in the latest raid against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), drew condemnation from other international groups as well.

“[Ragıp] Zarakolu is an honored PEN colleague and an internationally recognized defender of the right to write and publish freely. We emphatically protest his arrest,” read a statement issued by the American PEN association.

Ragıp Zarakolu’s son, Sinan Zarakolu, said in Beşiktaş the arrests were “arbitrary” and noted that his brother, Deniz Zarakolu, was also imprisoned last month on similar accusations.

“The accusations are shaky. Anything else is not possible anyway. Neither my father nor my brother have anything to do with the accusations whatsoever,” Sinan Zarakolu told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Sırma Ersanlı, Bürşa Ersanlı’s sister, also said a major and offensive smear campaign was being conducted.

“The image conjured up for Büşra has painted her as if she has a grenade in one hand and a pistol in the other,” the Marmara University professor’s sister told the Daily News.

Academics from Bosphorus University, one of Turkey’s most prestigious educational institutions, also plan to stage a rally in protest at the arrests this morning.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.