PEN International is pleased to learn of the release of Turkish publisher and human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu. However, PEN also remains deeply concerned that Zarakolu—who was arrested in October 2011—still faces a lengthy trial and up to 15 years in prison. PEN would like to reiterate its call for all charges against Zarakolu to be dropped immediately.

Background Information

Zarakolu is one of 15 suspects accused of membership of the Kurdistan Communities Union (Koma Civaken Kurdistan – KCK) who were released pending trial today. The Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court cited the length of time the suspects had already been imprisoned, “the nature of their crimes,” and “the state of the evidence” as reasons why the 15 suspects were released. Zarakolu had been imprisoned in a high-security facility since his arrest last year. The first hearing of his case is expected to be on July 2.
The formal indictment for the KCK trial, made on March 19, 2012, was accepted by an Istanbul court last week. Zarakolu’s release pending trial follows an appeal made by his lawyer, Sennur Baybuğ.
178 of the 193 suspects in the KCK trial remain imprisoned, including Marmara University Professor and constitutional law expert Büsra Ersanli, who is accused of “leading a terrorist organization” and faces up to 22.5 years in prison. PEN would like to once again call for her unconditional release and continues to protest her charges and imprisonment.
Ragıp Zarakolu, was arrested on October 28, 2011. Forty-one people were also arrested around the same time under what is known as the KCK operation that has been under way since 2009, leading to several hundred, some say over 1,000, arrests and trials. The KCK is seen as the civil/political wing front for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and thus also illegal.  
Zarakolu, is a well known publisher and political activist, who has been fighting for freedom of expression and human rights in Turkey for over 30 years.  He was awarded the Assyrian Cultural Award in March 2012 and was nominated as a candidate for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize the previous month. He is facing trial under the Anti-Terror Law (ATL) for “membership of an illegal organization,” a charge believed to be based on a speech he made to the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and articles he has written.
Ragıp Zarakolu is an honorary member of PEN Turkey, German PEN, Netherlands PEN, and San Miguel Allende PEN.

More Information:

Write A Letter

  • Welcoming the release pending trial of Ragıp Zarakolu;
  • Expressing regret that he was not freed unconditionally;
  • Expressing concern that Professor Büşra Ersanlı, translator Ayşe Berktay and Zarakolu’s son, Deniz Zarakolu, and other writers and journalists remain detained because of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties;
  • Expressing concerns that the arrests flout international standards protecting the rights to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

Minister of Justice
Mr Sadullah Ergin
06669 Kizilay
Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
Email: [email protected]

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Turkey in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after June 10, 2012: ftw [at]