PEN International is highly concerned about reports that writer, academic, and translator Deniz Zarakolu was arrested on October 7, 2011, under anti-terror legislation. Although no charges have been formally declared, it is believed that he is being held as the result of his peaceful exercise of his right to free expression. PEN condemns the arrest without charge of Mr. Zarakolu and calls on the Turkish authorities to secure his immediate release.

Background Information

Deniz Zarakolu was arrested on October 7, 2011. It is believed that he was arrested under anti-terror legislation after giving a lecture at the Political Science Academy of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) opposition party. Such party-affiliated research academies are common in Turkey, with similar institutes 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 allegedly been denied access to documents concerning the arrest.
Zarakolu, a PhD student specializing in political thought at Bilgi University in Istanbul, has written a books on Thomas Hobbes and the Turkish justice system. He has also translated Hobbes’ De Cive. He had previously been arrested and charged with “inciting revenge or hatred” over a speech he gave in 2002 at the funeral of his mother Ayşe Nur Zarakolu, a founding member of the Belge International Publishing House, although he was later acquitted.
It has also been alleged that several other scholars linked to the BDP Political Science Academy have also been arrested under anti-terror legislation, including Aziz Tunç, Ayse Berktay, and A. Dursun Yildiz.
Deniz’s father, Ragip Zarakolu, a member of PEN Turkey and Honorary Member of several PEN centers, 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. As one of the 50 writers chosen to represent the struggle for freedom of expression since 1960 for PEN International’s 50th Anniversary Campaign, Because Writers Speak Their Minds, Ragip Zarakolu's case is emblematic of the ongoing struggles many writers, publishers, and freedom of expression and human rights activists in Turkey continue to face.



Write A Letter

  • Condemning the arrest of writer and academic Deniz Zarakolu on charges that appear to be related to his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling for a full and impartial investigation into the arrests of other academics under anti-terror legislation, including Aziz Tunç, Ayse Berktay, and A. Dursun Yildiz;
  • Calling on the Turkish authorities to live up to their commitments to protect freedom of expression under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Send Your Letter To

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

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 November 25, 2011: ftw [at]