October 27, 2011

Minister of Justice
Mr. Sadullah Ergin
06669 Kizilay
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the arrest of writer, academic, and translator Deniz Zarakolu.

According to our information, Deniz Zarakolu, a PhD candidate specializing in political thought at Bilgi University in Istanbul, was arrested on October 7, 2011, under anti-terror legislation. Zarakolu had previously given a lecture at the Political Science Academy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) opposition party. We understand that such party-affiliated research academies are common in Turkey, with similar academies run by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The exact accusation against Zarakolu is unknown and his lawyer has reportedly been denied access to documents concerning the arrest. It is believed that Zarakolu is being held as a result of his peaceful exercise of his right to free expression.

Deniz Zarakolu has written books on Thomas Hobbes and the Turkish justice system, and has translated Hobbes’ De Cive. In 2002, Zarakolu was arrested and charged with “inciting revenge or hatred” after a speech he made at the funeral of his mother, Ayşe Nur Zarakolu, a founding member of the Belge International Publishing House. He was later acquitted.

PEN American Center condemns the arrest of writer, academic, and translator Deniz Zarakolu on charges that appear to be related to his peaceful exercise of his right to free expression. We call for a full and impartial investigation into his arrest and the arrests of other academics under anti-terror legislation, and we call on the Turkish authorities to uphold their obligation to protect freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.
Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Namık Tan
Embassy of Turkey to the United States
2525 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 612-6744

>> Return to Rapid Action