On March 10, 2011, Ragip Zarakolu, publisher and free expression activist, was sentenced to a fine, and author Mehmet Güler to a 15-month suspended prison term. They were convicted under article 7/2 of the Anti Terror Law, “spreading propaganda” in support of the banned Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), following the publication of Güler’s book The KCK File/The Global State and Kurds Without a State. PEN International is troubled by the sentences against Zarakolu and Güler which contravene international standards safeguarding their right to freedom of expression.

Background Information

The sentences come at a time of growing number of arrests of writers and journalists, a pattern that is particularly disturbing after a period where there was an apparent easing of pressure on journalists, with fewer arrests, trials and convictions. PEN is concerned at what appears to be a reversal of the past positive trend.

Zarakolu is 62 years old and has been fighting for freedom of expression in Turkey for over 30 years, publishing books on issues such as minority and human rights. As one of the 50 writers chosen to represent the struggle for freedom of expression since 1960 for PEN's 50th Anniversary Campaign, "Because Writers Speak Their Minds," Zarakolu’s case is emblematic of the ongoing struggles many writers, publishers, and freedom of expression activists continue to face in Turkey.

Write A Letter

  • While welcoming that Ragip Zarakolu and Mehmet Güler have not received prison terms;
  • Expressing concern that their convictions are a breach of Turkey’s commitments under both Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • Urging the Turkish government to review all relevant laws with the aim of bringing them into accord with international human rights standards, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and European Convention on Human Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

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

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

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after April 15, 2011: ftw [at] pen.org