Am Abend des 28. Oktober 2011er wurde der namhafte Verleger und Menschenrechtsaktivist Ragip Zarakolu auf dem Heimweg festgenommen. Am 31. Oktober 2011 beschloss ein Istanbuler Gericht die Verhaftung von Ragip Zarakolu sowie 23 weiteren der am 28.10. in Istanbul Festgenommenen.
Zarakolu (geb. 1948) wuchs auf der Insel Büyükada (griech. Prinkipos – „Große Prinzeninsel“) bei Istanbul unter Angehörigen der armenischen und griechischen Minderheit der Türkei auf. Er ist Gründer und Besitzer des Verlages Belge, der zahlreiche internationale Werke ins Türkische hat übersetzen lassen und dabei immer wieder Bücher zu in der Türkei tabuisierten Themen verlegt hat. So hat er in den 1980er Jahren die Bücher des Soziologen Ismail Beşikçi herausgegeben. R. Zarakolu veröffentlichte als erster türkischer Verleger Übersetzungen von Büchern zum Genozid an den Armeniern (u.a. George Jerjian: The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled; Prof. Dora Sakayan (Hg.): An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922) und Assyrern (David Gaunt: „Massacres, resistance, protectors“ – „Katliamlar, Direniş, Koruyucular“, 2007). Er ist außerdem Gründungsmitglied des Menschenrechtsvereins der Türkei (IHD) und Vorsitzender des Komitees für Verlegerfreiheit der Union der Verleger der Türkei (Türkiye Yayıncılar Birliği Yayımlama Özgürlüğü Komitesi Başkanı).
Am 5. November 2011 sollte Ragıp Zarakolu auf Einladung des Lepsiushauses und der Universität Potsdam auf einer internationalen Konferenz über „Die innertürkische Diskussion über 1915/16“ sprechen, am 6. November auf Einladung der Arbeitsgruppe Anerkennung im Berliner Haus der Demokratie und Menschenrechte über „Menschenrechte und Vergangenheitsbewältigung in der Türkei heute“.
Ragip Zarakolus Festnahme und Verhaftung erfolgten im Zusammenhang mit der anhaltenden Verhaftungswelle gegen die KCK (Union der Gemeinschaften Kurdistans), im Rahmen derer Intellektuelle und Politiker legaler Parteien (wie der BDP) als vermeintliche Sympathisanten der PKK festgenommen werden. Insgesamt wurden in den letzten eineinhalb Jahren fast 1.500 Menschen (aus dem legalen und intellektuellen „prokurdischen“ Spektrum der Türkei) – meist auf der Grundlage des Anti-Terrorismusgesetzes – festgenommen, allein am 27. und 28. Oktober 2011 in Istanbul 49 Personen, darunter außer Ragip Zarakolu auch die Professorin und Verfassungsrechtlerin Büşra Ersanlı von der Marmara Universität und am 4.Oktober 2011 auch Zarakolus Sohn Deniz Zarakolu, der Geschäftsführer des Belge Verlages.
Weitere Einzelheiten zur Biographie, Tätigkeit und Verfolgungsgeschichte von unseres Menschenrechtskollegen Ragip Zarakolu entnehmen wir der menschenrechtlichen Nachrichtenagentur „Info Türk“ (Brüssel), Nr. 398 (http://www.info-turk.be/398.htm#Publisher – siehe auch unten ). Darin sind auch zahlreiche Informationen über das Schicksal anderer Gesinnungshäftlinge in der Republik Türkei enthalten.
AGA Brief an Bundespräsident Christian Wulff ( 61kb)
Wie können Sie helfen?
1) Fordern Sie die Freilassung von Ragip und Deniz Zarakolu in Schreiben an die türkische Botschaft Berlin, an den Justizminister der Republik Türkei sowie an den Staatspräsidenten Gül und drücken Sie zugleich Ihre Besorgnis für das Schicksal der übrigen Gesinnungshäftlinge aus.
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BIOGRAPHIE UND VERFOLGUNGSGESCHICHTE DES VERLEGERS UND MENSCHENRECHTLERS RAGIP ZARAKOLU
Publisher and Human Rights Defender Ragip Zarakolu Arrested
Within the framework of the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) affair, the Turkish police detained Ragip Zarakolu, a well-known human rights activist and director of Belge Publishing House, in Turkey. Zarakolu is also the chairman of the Publishers Association Freedom to Publish Committee of Turkey.
Zarakolu was taken into custody on October 28, 2011, during a large-scale manhunt in Istanbul against Kurdish activists.
His son, Deniz Zarakolu, editor of the Belge Publishing House, was arrested on October 4.
Ragip Zarakolu’s Belge Publishing House has published numerous books as well on the oppression of the national minorities in Turkey as the Armenian Genocide.
Earlier on same day, within the same man-hunt, Professor Büşra Ersanlı, a constitutional law expert and a member of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) intra-party constitutional commission, was detained along with dozens of others.
Counterterrorism units launched simultaneous operations against suspected KCK members early on Friday and detained 41 people. Police raided various BDP offices in İstanbul as well, including the BDP İstanbul Politics Academy and several BDP branches.
Ersanlı, who has been taking part in the BDP’s preparations for a draft constitution, is also among the detainees. Sources said the number of detainees may increase as the operation is still under way.
BDP Co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş strongly criticized the new wave of detentions on Friday. “We will not be able to talk about a healthy constitution-making process if we go ahead like this. We will have no party member who can join efforts for [drafting] a new constitution,” Demirtaş said.
Who is Ragip Zarakolu?
Ragıp Zarakolu was born in 1948 on Büyükada close to Istanbul. At that time his father, Remzi Zarakolu, was the district governor on that island. Ragıp Zarakolu grew up with members of the Greek and Armenian minority in Turkey. In 1968 he began writing for „Ant“ and „Yeni Ufuklar“ magazines.
In 1971 a military junta assumed power in Turkey. Ragıp Zarakolu was tried on charges of secret relations to Amnesty International. He spent five months in prison, before the charges were dropped. In 1972 Ragıp Zarakolu was sentenced to 2 years‘ imprisonment for his article in the journal Ant (Pledge) on Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnam War. He stayed in Selimiye Prison (Istanbul) and was released in 1974 following a general amnesty. On his release Zarakolu refused to abandon his campaign for freedom of thought, striving for an „attitude of respect for different thoughts and cultures to become widespread in Turkey“.
The Belge Publishing House, established in Istanbul in 1977 by Zarakolu and his wife Ayşenur, has been a focus for Turkish censorship laws ever since. Charges brought against the couple resulted in imprisonment for both Ayşenur and Ragıp Zarakolu, the wholesale confiscation and destruction of books and the imposition of heavy fines.
In 1979 Ragıp Zarakolu was one of the founders of the daily newspaper Demokrat and took responsibility for the news desk on foreign affairs. The paper was banned with the military coup of 12 September 1980 and Ragıp Zarakolu was shortly imprisoned in 1982 in connection with this position in Demokrat. He was banned from leaving the country between 1971 and 1991. In 1986 he became one of 98 founders of the Human Rights Association in Turkey (HRA or in Turkish IHD). For some time Ragıp Zarakolu chaired the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN in Turkey. Currently (beginning of 2007) he chairs the Committee for Freedom of Publication in the Union of Publishers.
Until the military coup of 12 September 1980 Belge Publishing House mostly published academic and theoretical books. Afterwards Belge started to publish a series of books written by political prisoners. The series of 35 books consisted of poems, shorts stories, novels. The list of publications (see a list of selected publications below) include more than 10 books (translations) of Greek literature, 10 books on the Armenian Question and five books related to the Jews in Turkey. There are also a number of books dealing with the Kurds in Turkey.
He also has published several books on the Armenian Genocide, such as George Jerjian’s The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled and Professor Dora Sakayan’s An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922 — which brought new criminal charges in 2005. In November 2007 Zarakolu published David Gaunt’s book „Massacres, resistance, protectors“ about the Assyrian Genocide in Turkish („Katliamlar, Direniş, Koruyucular“).
In 1995 the Belge Publishing House offices were firebombed by a far right group, forcing it to be housed in a cellar. Since his wife’s death in 2002, Zarakolu continued to face further prosecutions.
Recent court cases against Ragıp Zarakolu and Belge Publishing House (until her death Ayşenur Zarakolu stood trial instead of him) include:
On 21 March Istanbul State Security Court (SSC) No. 1 heard the case of Ayşenur Zarakolu on charges of having disseminated separatist propaganda by publishing a book by Hüseyin Turhallı, former chairman of the Democracy Party (DEP) for Diyarbakır province, entitled Songs of Freedom. During the hearing her husband Ragıp Zarakolu stated that this would have been the 34th court case against his wife, if she had been alive. On 4 June Istanbul SSC dropped the charges against her after establishing that Hüseyin Turhallı was living in France and Ayşenur Zarakolu had died in January.
On 3 December Istanbul SSC acquitted Ragıp Zarakolu from charges under Article 312 TPC. The trial had been opened for his translation of the book The Regime of 12 September on Trial, written by Dr. Gazi Çağlar from Hannover University.
On 10 September, Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 14 (former Istanbul SSC No. 4) concluded the case launched against publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, owner of the newspaper Ülkede Özgür Gündem (Free Agenda in the Country), Ali Çelik Kasimogullari and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Mehmet Çolak in connection with an article titled Sana Ne (What’s that to you) that was published on 8 March 2003. The court sentenced Kasimogullari to a fine of TL 3.3 billion and Mehmet Çolak to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of TL 1.65 billion under Article 7/2 of the LFT (making propaganda for an illegal organization). Çolak’s sentence was commuted to a total fine of TL 3.73 billion. Zarakolu’s file was separated due to legal change made regarding Article 312 TPC. He was to be tried at a Penal Court.
Beyoglu Penal Court No. 2 heard the case on 2 March 2005 and adjourned the hearing to 12 May. Further hearings were held on 21 September and 11 October 2005. Result unknown.
Ragıp Zarakolu was indicted for the Turkish translation of Professor Dora Sakayan’s book entitled An Armenian Doctor in Turkey. G. Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal in 1922, Montreal 1997. According to the indictment, Zarakolu was to be sentenced following Article 301 new TPC (Article 159 of the former TPC). The first hearing was set for 21 September at Istanbul Penal Court No 2.
On 20 September Istanbul Penal Court No 2 continued to hear the case against Ragıp Zarakolu, owner of Belge Publishing House, in connection with the book about the Armenian genocide entitled The Truth Will Set Us Free written by the British writer George Jerjian. The hearing was adjourned to 22 November for investigation of the expert report. The charges related to Article 301 new TPC (of June 2005). The latest two cases were combined and further hearings were held on 21 November and 15 February, 19 April, 21 June and 14 December 2006. The next hearing was scheduled for 15 March 2007.
In June 2008, Zarakolu was found guilty of „insulting the institutions of the Turkish Republic“ under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code for translating and publishing Jerjian’s book. The judge sentenced him to five months in prison. However, the judge, citing Zarakolu’s „good behavior“, stated that the author may avoid imprisonment by paying a fine.
On 10 March 2011, Ragip Zarakolu, publisher and free expression activist, was sentenced to a fine, and author Mehmet Güler to a 15-month suspended prison term. The two were convicted of spreading propaganda seen to support the banned Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), following the publication of Mehmet Güler’s book The KCK File/The Global State and Kurds Without a State. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is troubled by the sentences against Zarakolu and Güler which contravene international standards safeguarding the right to freedom of expression.