Zarakolu to be reunited with son behind bars

Zarakolu to be reunited with son behind bars

Vercihan Ziflioğlu ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Zarakolu to be reunited with son behind bars

Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu and his son, Deniz, (inset) are in a Kocaeli prison pending trial after being arrested as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case. DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜREL

Authorities have accepted prominent publisher Ragıp Zarakolu’s longstanding request to be placed in the same prison ward as his son, Deniz Zarakolu, who was also arrested as part of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) case like his father.

“If conscience now serves as a justification for unfair arrests in this country, the gravity of the point we have reached makes itself felt once more. If lies pass as the truth, and denials have replaced apologies, then everything is rotten,” Ragıp Zarakolu told the Hürriyet Daily News in a recent letter.

Deniz Zarakolu, a 36-year-old Ph.D. student at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, was transferred Dec. 28 from a prison in the Thracian province of Edirne to another prison in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, where his father, Ragıp Zarakolu, is currently being kept under arrest.

“We are living in a country that has turned into a field of death. I could not have born the weight of remaining outside [of prison] any longer. Greetings to you all; I am delighted to be inside. As you know, they like the dead and the underdog in this country and turn life into hell for those still alive,” said Ragıp Zarakolu.

Human rights activist, writer, publisher and journalist Ragıp Zarakolu is also a member of the Turkish PEN Center, as well as a recipient of numerous prestigious international awards. He was arrested on Nov. 1, 2011, alongside prominent academic Büşra Ersanlı and dozens of other suspects upon the order of an Istanbul court over his alleged links with the KCK, the alleged urban wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

“As 2011 is drawing to a close, or being expended away with ignorance, boorishness and gauche to be more precise, Turkey has also made it among the [the world’s] worst countries in terms of the freedom of thought and expression,” Tarık Günersel, a member of PEN International Board and the president of the Turkish PEN Center, told the Daily News.

Six PEN members, including Zarakolu, are currently serving time behind bars, according to Günersel.
“Over 100 of our journalists are in prison. More than 500 students are still under arrest merely for unfurling banners. Statues are getting torn down into pieces, while writers, translators and publishers are being shoved into prisons,” he said. “Anxiety and self-censorship is growing more widespread, while critical thinkers censor themselves even when speaking on the phone.”

Ahmet Abakay, the head of the Ankara-based Contemporary Journalists’ Association (ÇGD), also condemned Ragıp Zarakolu’s continued arrest.

“Turkey is flunking on the year 2011. The government is at ease over all these developments. Even the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are no longer relevant. Over 100 journalists are being tried, while the files of journalists released pending trial are nearing 10,000,” Abakay told the Daily News.