November 9, 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 transfer of publisher, human rights activist, and Turkish PEN Member Ragip Zarakolu to a high-security “F-Type” prison.

According to our information, Ragip Zarakolu, director of the Belge Publishing House, was moved from Metris prison in Istanbul to Koceali No. 2 F-Type prison on November 4, 2011. We understand that F-Type prisons, officially called F-Type High Security Closed Institutions for Execution of Sentences, were originally erected to accommodate members of armed organizations, and are today also used to house prisoners of convicted drug offenses, involvement in organized crime, and terrorism charges. Both the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT) and Amnesty International have previously criticized these prisons for their high levels of isolation and for harsh and arbitrary disciplinary punishments.

Ragip Zarakolu is a well-known political activist who has been fighting for freedom of expression in Turkey for over 30 years, publishing books on issues such as minority and human rights. He and Professor Büşra Ersanlı, an academic based in Istanbul’s Marmara University, were both arrested on October 29, 2011. Zarakolu has been charged under anti-terror legislation, and is currently in pre-trial detention. In the days leading up to his arrest, Zarakolu had been campaigning for the release of his son, Deniz Zarakolu, who was arrested three weeks earlier on October 7 and recently moved to Edirne Prison in northwest Turkey.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned about the continued detention of Ragip Zarakolu, Professor Büşra Ersanlı, and Deniz Zarakolu, as well as many other writers and journalists arrested because of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties in direct violation of their right to freedom of expression and association guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory. We therefore call for their immediate and unconditional release.
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

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