With the Help of Our Friends
Prison and censorship aren’t new for the Zarakolu family. Ayşe Nur, founder of Turkey’s Freedom to Publish Committee, was sentenced to two years in prison in 1995 for the activities of her publishing house, Belge, which she founded and ran with her husband Ragip and which publishes controversial works. Their offices were firebombed that same year. Ragip has been in and out of prison since 1971, and was most recently arrested in a crackdown against writers, translators, publishers, human rights defenders, and others with pro-Kurdish sympathies in October 2011. Though he was released pending trial, he still faces a possible 15-year prison term. Deniz Zarakolu, Ragip and Ayşe’s son, was swept up in the same crackdown, and remains in prison.
Deniz, who is a PhD student and had authored a book on Thomas Hobbes and translated Hobbes’ De Cive, was arrested on October 7, 2011. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of “membership of an illegal organization”—trumped up charges meant to threaten anyone associated with the pro-Kurdish Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP), a legitimate political party that holds 36 seats in the Turkish Parliament. Deniz had apparently given a lecture on political philosophy at a BDP meeting.
Despite his incarceration in Silivri Prison, his voice is still alive. Last week, I received a letter from Deniz in response to our annual card-writing event to writers in prison, held every year in December. Written on clean, white computer paper in an easy hand, Deniz conveyed a message of hope:
We all know that light always prevails [over] darkness, and that with the help of our friends, we shall overcome!
Those friends are you and me. Those friends are all the writers or supporters who know his name, who know that there is a crackdown against writers in Turkey and say that it’s wrong. Those friends are those who send letters to Deniz telling him to keep his spirit alive, that he’s not forgotten. This is the most powerful message we as writers and supporters can convey. And it’s never too late to say hello.
Please send messages to Deniz Zarakolu at the following address:
Cihan Deniz Zarakolu
Silivri 2 No’lu L Tipp