Les soussigné (e)s adhèrent au texte de l'appel en faveur de la réception par Ragip Zarakolu du Prix Nobel de la Paix :
Dr. Vincent Duclert (Associate Professor of History, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales/EHESS, France) ; Dr. Diana Gonzalez (Ph.D EHESS,
Sociology and Aesthetics) ; Dr. Hamit Bozarslan (Professor of History and Sociology, EHESS) ; Dr. Yves Déloye (Professor of Political Science, Sciences
Po Bordeaux and Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Secretary General of the Association française de science politique) ; Emine Sarikartal (Ph.D Candidate Université de
Paris-Nanterre, France, translator and editor, Philosophy) ; Ferhat Taylan (Ph.D Candidate Université de Bordeaux, France, and translator, Philosophy), co-founders of the
GIT initiative (November 21, 2011) Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey,
Alexis Govciyan (President of the Coordination Council of French Armenian Organizations (CCAF) and President of Europe de la
mémoire) ; Dr. Dalita Roger-Hacyan (Associate Professor of English Language, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne,
France) ; Dr. Roger W. Smith (Professor Emeritus of Government at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA, Co-founder and Past
President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars).
Dr. Samim Akgönül (Associate Professor of History and Political Science, Université de Strasbourg, France) ; Dr. Salih Akın (Associate Professor of
Linguistics, Université de Rouen) ; Dr. Janine Altounian (Researcher, Translator) ; Dr. Derya Bayir (Independent Scholar and Lawyer, UK) ; Dr. Avner Ben-Amos
(Professor of History, Tel Aviv University, Israel) ; Dr. Alice von Bieberstein (Research assistant, University of Cambridge, member of GIT Germany) ; Johann Bihr (Reporters sans frontiers [Reporters Without Borders], Head of Europe & Central Asia Desk) ; Dr. Faruk Bilici (Professor of History, INALCO, France) ; Dr. Martin van
Bruinessen (Emeritus Professor of Comparative Studies of Contemporary Muslim Societies, Utrecht University, Holland) ; Dr. Cengiz Cağla (Associate Professor of
Political Science, Yildiz University, Turkey) ; Dr. Etienne Copeaux (Historian, GREMMO, France) ; Dr. Caroline Finkel (Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh, UK) ; Dr. Andrea
Fischer-Tahir (Research Fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin, Germany) ; Dr. Zeynep Gambetti (Associate
Professor of Political Theory, Boğazici University, Turkey, Co-founder of GIT Turkey) ; Dr. Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu (Associate Professor of Political Science, Boğazici
University, Turkey) ; Dr. Ali Kazancigil (Co-director of the journal Anatoli, Political Science) ; Dr. Raymond Kévorkian (Professor, Institut Français de Géopolitique, Université Paris 8-Saint-Denis) ; Dr. Jean-Pierre Mahé
(Member of the Institut, France) ; Dr. Michel Marian (Lecturer, Sciences Po Paris, France) ; Dr. Claire
Mauss-Copeaux (Historian, GREMMO, France) ; Dr. Claire Mouradian (Senior Research Fellow in History, CNRS
France) ; Dr. Esra Mungan (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Boğazici University, Turkey); Dr. Leyla Neyzi
(Professor of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabancı University, Turkey) ; Ozden Ocak (PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies, George Mason
University, USA) ; Zeynep Oguz (Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University, USA) ; Séta
Papazian (President of Collectif VAN, France) ; Dr. Hélène Piralian-Simonyan (Psychoanalyst and Writer, Founding
Member of AIRCRIGE France) ; Dr. Yasar Ozan Say (Visiting Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Bridgewater State University,
USA) ; Dr. Gürel Tüzün (History Foundation, Turkey) ; Dr. Gündüz
Vassaf (Psychologist, writer) ; Dr. Ipek K. Yosmaoğlu (Assistant Professor, Northwestern University, USA). And CCAF-Support Committee to Ragıp Zarakolu.
Voir le texte complet ci-dessous (GITInitiative) :
Norwegian Nobel Committee
Norwegian Nobel Institute
Henrik Ibsens gate 51
Paris, September 26, 2012
The Hon. Thorbjørn Jagland and Members of the Committee:
We, the undersigned scholars and intellectuals of France and others countries, have the honor to recommend independent publisher and pro-democracy intellectual Ragıp Zarakolu of Turkey for
the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Over the past three decades, not only have Mr. Zarakolu’s life and work become synonymous with the struggle for freedom of thought in a country notorious for convicting writers and
academics under “anti-terror” laws. At this time of increased government repression, we would also draw the Nobel Committee’s attention to Mr. Zarakolu’s immediate circumstances and the plight of
other Turkish prisoners of conscience, including his own son, publisher Deniz Zarakolu.
During a government campaign against the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), father and son were caught up in a wave of mass detentions. “My arrest and the accusation of membership in an
illegal organization,” Mr. Zarakolu stated through his lawyer, “are parts of a campaign that aims to intimidate all intellectuals and democrats of Turkey and, particularly, to deprive the Kurds
No stranger to the rigors of Turkish justice, the elder Zarakolu, frail and ill, was formally charged on 19 March 2012 with “aiding and abetting an illegal organization.” Released on bail
after six months in a high-security prison, Ragıp Zarakolu, 64, now faces a sentence of up to 15 years if convicted. We are convinced that the Nobel Peace Prize would focus international
attention on the courageous, ongoing struggle for human rights in the Republic of Turkey and other parts of the world.
A founding member of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD), Mr. Zarakolu represents his country on the Freedom to Publish Committee of the International Publishers Association (IPA).
He also chairs the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN in Turkey. As owner and director of Belge International Publishing House, founded by Ragıp and his late wife Ayşe Nur
(Sarısözen) Zarakolu in 1977, he promotes respect for diversity of thought and culture by challenging taboos to freedom of expression. Ayşe Nur studied sociology and later became the head
librarian at the Institute of Financial Studies at Istanbul University. “The place to debate our history is in the books, not in the courts”,
she said. Ayşe Nur and Ragıp Zarakolu published more than 100 books on the Armenian Genocide.
The first Turkish publisher to engage with the Armenian Genocide issue, Mr. Zarakolu has introduced his fellow-citizens to signal works of scholarship by Yves Ternon and Vahakn
Dadrian—which were banned in Turkey—as well as George Jerjian, The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled, and Dora Sakayan, Garabed Hacheryan’s Izmir Journal: An
Armenian Doctor’s Experiences, which brought new criminal charges in 2005. In November 2007 he published David Gaunt’s Massacres, Resistance, Protectors, a study of the Assyrian
Genocide. Belge’s extensive list also includes fiction and poetry by political prisoners; Greek literature in translation; and books on the Jewish and Kurdish communities.
This editorial activity with its considerable political, intellectual, and ethical importance has made Belge the ongoing target of ultranationalist and state repression.
Over the years, the charges brought by the Turkish authorities against Ragıp Zarakolu and his wife resulted in attacks, imprisonment,
confiscation and destruction of books, and the imposition of heavy fines, endangering the survival of the Belge publishing house. Throughout his publishing career, Ragıp Zarakolu has been singled
out by the authorities because of his decades of struggle for freedom of expression, and particularly his promotion of minority rights and his quest for truth, justice and reconciliation. Ragıp
Zarakolu’s work as a publisher and his wholehearted support of freedom to publish have often brought him into conflict with the authorities and endangered his personal safety. Despite the string
of attacks, he has persistently continued to tackle contentious issues, thus encouraging healthy debate and democratization in Turkey.
“As a family, we paid our dues in every period,” Mr. Zarakolu has said. Born in 1948 on Büyükada, near mainland Istanbul, he grew up with Greeks and Armenians in a multiethnic island
community. Ragıp’s father, District Governor Remzi Zarakolu, was removed from office for his opposition to the standing government
and died soon afterwards. An uncle who was serving in the military succumbed to heart failure at 49, “as he could not take the 1960 coup,” Mr. Zarakolu recalled.
In 1968, he began writing for the magazines Ant (Pledge) and Yeni Ufuklar (New Horizons). “They raided my home during the March 12  coup, to [arrest] me. My life passed
in between jails and courtrooms,” said Mr. Zarakolu.
Convicted of “secret relations with Amnesty International,” he spent five months in prison. In 1972 he was incarcerated in the Selimiye detention center of Istanbul for an article he had written
on Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnam War.
Released two years later in the wake of a general amnesty, Mr. Zarakolu committed himself fully to the defense of intellectual freedom. Following the military coup of 1980, Belge added a
literary series by political prisoners to its catalogue of academic and theoretical works. For his writing on foreign affairs in the daily newspaper Demokrat, which he co-founded, Mr.
Zarakolu served additional prison time in 1982. Until 1991 he was banished from Turkey. Four years later, in 1995, the Belge office was bombed by a right-wing extremist group.
Mr. Zarakolu’s immediate family has also sacrificed dearly for freedom. “They consumed the life of Ayşe [Nur Zarakolu], in between prison [walls]. She never took a step back from what she
knew to be right, and I lost her at a young age because of cancer,” Mr. Zarakolu told Hürriyet
recently. “My son Deniz was taken into custody due to a speech he gave at his mother’s grave [in 2002]. Am I now glad because they released me? No. I had to leave my son behind the
iron bars of the cell I shared with him.”
“I shared the same destiny with my son. We continue paying the price for the values we believe in from one generation to the next,” Mr. Zarakolu concluded.
The publisher’s latest legal ordeal began on 4 October 2011, with 150 arrests in the southeastern cities of Diyarbakir and Gaziantep. Another 90 individuals, including 83 members or
officers of the legal Kurdish-oriented Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), as well as journalists, were arrested in Istanbul, along with Belge officer and political science graduate student Deniz
On 12 October, Ragıp Zarakolu issued a resounding appeal from the International Book Fair at Frankfurt:
“Our editor, Deniz Zarakolu, Civil Engineer, now Ph.D. student in Bilgi University, is arrested. [The] Reason [was due to his] to lecture on
political philosophy beginning [with] Aristotle today in Kurdish Party BDP, [a party] which is legal and in Parliament. He wrote a book on Thomas Hobbes, and translated his De Cive.
Ironically also he translated a book 11 years ago on problems [with the] Turkish justice system [The Independence of Judges and Lawyers in the Republic of Turkey: Report of a Mission,
1999, published by the Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Geneva, Switzerland]. He translated academic books also for Bilgi University. He was [a] translator of human rights
delegations from UK and Europe.
And our writer, Aziz Tunç, who wrote "Analysis and Historical Background of Maras Massacre 1978", is arrested also [b]ecause he lectured on [the]
Maras Massacre. He was writing a book on "Maras history in multiculturality."
Because of [the] Anti Terror Law, they will wait at least one year until the beginning of [a] trial. Only accusation is to be member of a legal
party and to lecture at the BDP Political Science Academy. CHP and AKP have also this kinds of academies, like social democrats in Germany, Sweden or Norway. [Amongst others] arrested are also
other scholars like Ayse Berktay and A. Dursun Yildiz.
Our translator Suzan Zengin, who grew up in Germany, was in prison [for the] last 2 years, she is released 2 months ago. She had health problems
in prison. She had a heart operation 10 days ago, and she did not wake up after it. She is in coma for 12 days. What a waste of lives.
We are afraid for the fate of my son Deniz Zarakolu, who has [an] asthma problem and Aziz Tunc, because of their possible health problems in the
Suzan Zengin’s last translation was "Exile, Massacre and Suppression of Anatolian Christians", a conference book in Berlin [edited by] Tessa
Hofmann. Earlier she had translated for us "Anthology of Cyprus Greek Literature", "Anthology of Greek Short Stories about Thessaloniki", "Anthology
of Assyrian Folk Stories and Songs".
I came first time to Frankfurt Book Fair, in 1991. Then our writer Ismail Besikci was in prison, because he was a scholar [who worked] on Kurdish
people. After 20 years what has been changed ?
They all went [to] prison because they are working for peace, for liberty, equality and they believe [in a] peaceful co-existence of different
peoples and cultures.
Our struggle will go on for the truth and humanity.”
The events at the beginning of October 2011, with the arrest of his son, and finally the death of Suzan Zengin (as a result of the disastrous
medical conditions of a long detention), are among the severest challenges Mr. Zarakolu has had to face in his lengthy experience as a democratic intellectual and independent publisher.
In Istanbul on 28 October, while engaged in efforts to defend the accused, Ragıp Zarakolu was himself taken into custody. Also arrested at this time was a renowned political scientist,
scholar of constitutional law, and expert on the construction of Turkish “official history,” Marmara University professor Büşra Ersanlı. She was detained on the eve of an international round
table at Bilgi University, where she was to preside over a discussion of “Controversial Issues in the Turkish Republic.” Another 48 people were swept up in a police raid on the Istanbul offices
of the BDP.
On 1 November, following a lengthy custody and a 28-hour hearing, the court at Beşiktaş indicted Mr. Zarakolu and Prof. Ersanlı, as well as others, for “belonging to an illegal
organization,” a violation of anti-terror law, and remanded them to pretrial detention. Like his son, who was imprisoned under high-security at Edirne, Ragıp Zarakolu as a terror suspect was held
first at Metris Prison, then transferred to Kocaeli, a so-called “F-type” penitentiary notorious for its harsh conditions. Deniz Zarakolu joined his father there.
The documents seized at the Zarakolu and Ersanlı homes, as well as the tenor of the interminable interrogations, revealed the inanity of the “terrorism” charges. From Metris, Ragıp Zarakolu
denounced these unjust methods in an open letter to the press:
“My arrest and the accusations of being a member of an illegal organisation are part of a campaign to intimidate all intellectuals and democrats
living in Turkey and, more specifically, to isolate Kurds.
The police forces that searched my home found nothing more than what you would normally find in a writer’s home and confiscated these items as
Among these items were Habiba by Ender Öndeş, a book that is published and freely sold in Turkey, the second volume of Doğan Özgüden’s
Vatansız Gazeteciler (Stateless Journalists), Barış Süreci (Peace Process) by Yüksel Genç, notes prepared for the publication of Alman Belgelerinde Ermeni Soykırımı (The
Armenian Genocide according to German Sources), a short piece I had prepared for the back cover of former CHP (Republican People’s Party) MP Sırrı Özbek’s latest book and a draft of a work called
Ermeni Sözlü Tarih Çalışması (Armenian Oral History Project).
The government must give an explanation for why I was arrested only a week before I was due to travel to a conference in Berlin and, from there,
to conferences at Colgate University (USA) and in Los Angeles and Michigan.
Under custody, I was deprived of all of my bank and credit cards, which are being kept by the authorities.
It is yet unclear when I will be able to exercise my right to trial, and it is evident that this state of affairs may last for months.
I have not been asked a single question regarding the organisation I am accused of being a member of; rather, I have only been pressed on works
that I have written or edited, speeches I have given, and free and public meetings I have attended.
I believe that it is time to show a collective opposition to this wave of arrests, which has become a campaign of mass lynching, and that all
moves by the authorities that go against the law and principles of due legal process must now cease.”
Despite the risks, protests were held in Turkey against these mass arrests.
Former Istanbul mayor Ahmet İsvan, ambassador Temel İskit, writer Yaşar Kemal and several university professors issued an appeal on behalf of Mr. Zarakolu. In Ankara, the Freedom of Thought
Initiative launched a petition under the headline “That’s Enough!”
A “night of support” was organized in Ankara so that the publisher could be “reunited with his books.”
Mobilization also took place worldwide. Several petitions were created, one in English (“Stop the arbitrary detentions in Turkey !”) and another in German, by the Working Group Against
Genocide for International Understanding.
Branches of the PEN-Club, particularly the PEN American Center, are committed to Ragıp Zarakolu. In France, the Coordination Council of Armenian Organizations launched a book-ordering campaign in support of Belge while the publishing house
was deprived of its director.
Paul Auster, a leading member of the PEN American Center, publicly refused to go to Turkey “because journalists and authors are imprisoned.” Interviewed by Hürriyet, he asked: “How many are jailed now? Over a hundred?” Accused by Prime Minister Erdoğan of selective indignation, the American writer confirmed: “There are nearly one hundred writers imprisoned in Turkey, not to speak of independent
publishers such as Ragıp Zarakolu, whose case is being closely watched by PEN Centers around the world.” He added: “All countries
are flawed and beset by myriad problems, Mr. Prime Minister, including my United States, including your Turkey, and it is my firm conviction that in order to improve conditions in our countries,
in every country, the freedom to speak and publish without censorship or the threat of imprisonment is a sacred right for all men and women.”
In Europe, an initiative of considerable magnitude arose in defense of the prisoners. It began with the publication in the French newspaper Le Monde, 11 November 2012, two weeks
after the 29 October arrests, of a commentary signed by academics on the death of civil liberties in Turkey. The authors, with additional colleagues, then formed an International Working Group
(GIT) for Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey. GIT was founded as a decentralized organization with a large degree of autonomy, based on the requirement of political freedom
necessary to the practice of research and teaching.
On 21 November, GIT launched an appeal in French, English and Turkish that was signed by 33 scholars of diverse positions, nationalities and origins, united in defense of academic liberty
and freedom of research considered as a fundamental democratic right – in Turkey as elsewhere. By 15 February 2012, that statement had grown into a worldwide petition with no fewer than four
lists culminating in more than five hundred signatures.
From Paris, the GIT Initiative mobilized international academics who formed branches in the United States, England, Germany, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Turkey.
Individual members intervened in major newspapers and on global news websites. Expatriates of Turkish nationality or origin also joined the initiative, demonstrating that the fate of Turkey also
depends on its intellectual elites who are mobilized for democracy beyond its borders.
Persistent in its policy of repression, Ankara initiated new raids, like that of 13 January 2012, and confirmed the seriousness of the (imaginary) crimes attributed to the accused. On 19
March, Public Prosecutor Adnan Çimen requested imprisonment of 7.5 to 15 years for Ragıp Zarakolu for having “aided and abetted an illegal organization.” The 2,400-page indictment was forwarded
to the court at Silivri, a huge judicial and penitentiary complex 80 km from Istanbul, where 193 people, of whom 147 were detained in preventive custody, were to stand trial on 2 July.
Refusing to be intimidated by state terrorism, international support for the prisoners of conscience intensified. Updates on intellectual repression in Turkey—including news of high-profile
detainees in the maximum-security prisons as well as dozens of lesser-known students incarcerated elsewhere—were relayed through traditional and new media in France, England, and the United
States. The stances and statements of the prisoners were also disseminated. Mr. Zarakolu, for example, clarified the extreme danger of Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide and the need to
fight against it, not only as an intellectual expression but also as a form of violence against social justice and fundamental freedoms.
In an apparent attempt to restore Ankara’s image and placate Western embassies, Mr. Zarakolu and fourteen other prisoners (plus six people in Van) were released on 10 April. It seems clear
that the scale of the national and international mobilization influenced the prosecution’s decision.
Although weakened, ill, and greatly affected by the detention of his son and many friends, Mr. Zarakolu refused to allow his early release to be exploited as government propaganda. “Every
single statement I make will serve to normalize this abnormal situation. Just like my unfair arrest, my unexpected and pointless release will also [help to] create the impression among the world
public that [authorities] had committed a mistake which they are now retracting,” he stated in an interview with Hürriyet. “Any comments I will make from now on will serve to normalize this abnormal situation,” he added. “For as long as the laws
in question continue to remain in effect, the freedom of thought will consist of nothing but a fat lie. It is now possible to jail people [based on] conspiracy theories.”
The hearings in July sparked new actions. In a statement published by Le Monde, the chief members of GIT France highlighted the general issues of this political trial. The renowned
scientific journal Nature published an article by Dr. Alison Abbott on the worldwide mobilization of academics in solidarity with their colleagues in Turkey.
The Working Group Against Genocide for International Understanding also launched an appeal.
The already close link between international actions and those conducted in Turkey was powerfully reinforced by the emergence of GIT Türkiye, complete with its own inaugural declaration, a
website and several hundred members. Following a press conference in Istanbul on 26 June, GIT Türkiye stepped up its actions in preparation for the upcoming KCK trial.
On 2 July, GIT Türkiye, the IPA (International Publishers Association), PEN, the Turkish Publishers Association (TYB), and foreign correspondents mobilized en masse at Silivri. During an
impromptu press conference outside the court, Mr. Zarakolu likened the Turkish prisons to a Soviet gulag and the KCK trial to a cancer eating away at Turkey. The threat to freedom of expression,
he added, is as serious now as it was on 12 September 1980, when the Turkish military seized power in a coup d'etat.
Doubt began to assail the accusers all the more because the political power sent contradictory signals. Consequently, on July 13, came the release of Prof. Ersanlı, together with the
student Büşra Beste Önder and 12 other defendants in the KCK trial. This was a limited measure, as many defendants including Deniz Zarakolu were still in prison, and no charges were waived for
the others. However, this release disrupted the judicial harrassment policy, hitherto consistently applied, and granted a symbolic victory to those who fought for Mr. Zarakolu, Prof. Ersanlı, and
all the others. It was also a personal victory for the prisoners who transformed their ordeal into a new commitment for fundamental freedoms and sovereignty of knowledge.
Mr. Zarakolu has ended his public silence, but the struggle of democratic intellectuals in Turkey and their international supporters is far from over.
Their main objective remains the release of all prisoners of conscience and the dismissal of all charges against them.
To this day, democratic intellectuals in Turkey are shouted down by the onslaught of Islamist media, which do not hesitate, for example, to use anti-Semitism to discredit them. During
political trials, their image is further tarnished by such tactics as media lynchings, the hacking of Internet sites, and the manipulation of personal data. Defamation trials are interminable and
counter-investigations are made more difficult by the increasing fragility of the independent press.
Yet pro-democracy intellectuals like Mr. Zarakolu are the honor of Turkey. The upcoming judicial developments, and the fate of all those who risk their physical liberties for the sake of
free thought, are closely watched by their defenders in Turkey and throughout the world. Their powerful writing, resolute courage and faith in liberty have awakened the conscience of Europe and
For decades, they have stood for fundamental human rights. Ragıp and the late Ayşe Nur Zarakolu were both, for half a century, at the forefront of the mobilization movement for a living vibrant, democratic Turkey. Faithful to the
intellectual traditions of their country, the couple valued writing, publishing and the distribution of knowledge. They endured imprisonment as the price of diffusing what they called “a
respectful attitude for the diversity of thought and cultures of Turkey.” They embodied the principle that respect for human diversity is developed through knowledge and research, which requires
intellectual and political freedom as much as social emancipation.
At the heart of these engagements, despite years of imprisonment, concern for his family, and physical exhaustion, stands Ragıp Zarakolu, steadfast in his defense of civil liberties, the
freedom to publish and to seek the truth behind Turkey’s “official history.” His courage and life-long commitment inspire all others who resist repression with the peaceful arms of ideas, words,
If Ragıp Zarakolu is the target of ongoing persecution in his country, he has on the other hand been honored by international awards and prestigious tributes. On 21 April 2005, he received
the Medal of Courage from Mayor Bertrand Delanoë at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris for his publications on the Armenian Genocide. The same year, he was jointly awarded the Freedom of Expression
prize by the Norwegian Authors’ Association and the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. In 2008, he received the IPA Freedom to Publish award. Both the Turkish Publishers Association and the Turkish
Association of Journalists honored Mr. Zarakolu with awards for freedom of thought, expression, and the press. He also received the Armenian National Library’s Hagop Megapart Medal of Honor for
his contribution to the recognition of Armenian history, culture and literature in Turkey. In 2010, during PEN International’s 50th anniversary campaign, “Because Writers Speak Their Minds,” Mr.
Zarakolu was one of 50 writers chosen to represent the struggle for freedom of expression since 1960.
On 28 April 2012, Mr. Zarakolu received the annual award of an American organization, the Jeri Laber Human Rights Watch. He responded:
Thank you for the very important prize and for your support for freedom to publish. I am pleased to accept this prize not only for myself but on
behalf of all the publishers, writers and journalists who remain in prison in Turkey. Although I have been released, I remain under the threat of re-arrest as the anti-democratic laws and unfair
trials continue. The day I and 14 others were released, 14 more people were arrested. I was arrested with no reason given and after five months, I was released with no reason given. I am not a
political activist. For nearly 40 years, I have been a publisher and a supporter of human rights.
Mr. Zarakolu’s name has several times been mentioned in connection with the Nobel Peace Prize. “Ragıp Zarakolu is the pride of publishing. He is the limelight of freedom to publish in
Turkey. (...) This man does not belong to prison, he deserves a Nobel Prize," stated Bjørn Smith-Simonsen, Chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish
Committee (FTPC), upon hearing of Mr. Zarakolu’s detention last fall.
Earlier this year, Swedish Parliament Members Amineh Kakabaveh, Jens Holm, Bengt Berg, Siv Holma, Marianne Berg, Jan Lindholm and Valter Mutt applied to the Nobel Prize Committee in Oslo to
nominate Ragıp Zarakolu for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Working Group Recognition has appealed to the German lawmakers to follow the lead of their Swedish colleagues.
We, the undersigned, concur with these recommendations. To uphold democracy and cultural diversity in one’s own country is also, we believe, to serve the aspirations of humankind towards
freedom, truth, and dignity. We know of no-one whose life and work more powerfully demonstrate this universal principle. In conclusion, we are honored to nominate Ragıp Zarakolu as a candidate
for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Inaugural signatories of the Appeal:
Dr. Vincent Duclert (Associate Professor of History, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales/EHESS, France) ; Dr. Diana Gonzalez (Ph.D EHESS, Sociology and Aesthetics) ; Dr. Hamit Bozarslan (Professor of
History and Sociology, EHESS) ; Dr. Yves Déloye (Professor of Political Science, Sciences Po Bordeaux and Université Paris 1
Panthéon-Sorbonne, Secretary General of the Association française de science politique) ; Emine Sarikartal (Ph.D Candidate Université
de Paris-Nanterre, France, translator and editor, Philosophy) ; Ferhat Taylan (Ph.D Candidate Université de Bordeaux, France, and
translator, Philosophy), co-founders of the GIT initiative (November 21, 2011) Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey,
(President of the Coordination Council of French Armenian Organizations (CCAF) and President of Europe de la mémoire) ;
Dr. Dalita Roger-Hacyan
(Associate Professor of English Langage, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, France) ;
Dr. Roger W. Smith (professor emeritus of government at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA, co-founder and past president of the
International Association of Genocide Scholars).
Dr. Salih Akın (Associate Professor of Linguistics, Université de Rouen), Dr. Janine Altounian (Researcher, Translator), Dr. Derya Bayir (Independent Scholar and Lawyer,
UK), Dr. Avner Ben-Amos (Professor of History, Tel Aviv University, Israel), Johann Bihr (Reporters sans frontières, Head of Europe & Central Asia Desk), Dr.
Faruk Bilici (Professor of History, INALCO, France), Dr. Martin van Bruinessen (Emeritus Professor of Comparative Studies of Contemporary Muslim Societies,
Utrecht University, Holland) ; Dr. Etienne Copeaux (Historian, GREMMO, France) ; Dr. Caroline Finkel (Honorary Fellow, University of Edinburgh, UK),
Dr. Andrea Fischer-Tahir (Research fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin, Germany), Dr. Zeynep Gambetti (Associate Professor of Political Theory,
Boğazici University, Turkey, co-founder of GIT Turkey ; Dr. Zeynep Kadirbeyoğlu (Associate Professor of Political Science, Boğazici University,
Turkey) ; Dr. Ali Kazancigil (Co-director of the revue Anatoli, Political Science) ; Dr. Raymond Kévorkian (Professor, Institut Français de Géopolitique, Université Paris
8-Saint-Denis) ; Dr. Michel Marian (Lecturer, Sciences Po Paris, France) ; Dr.
Claire Mauss-Copeaux (Historian, GREMMO, France) ; Dr. Claire Mouradian (Senior Research Fellow in History, CNRS
France) ; Dr. Esra Mungan (Assistant Professor of Psychology, Boğazici University, Turkey); Dr. Leyla Neyzi (Professor of Arts and Social Sciences, Sabancı University, Turkey) ; Ozden Ocak (PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies, George Mason
University, USA) ; Zeynep Oguz (Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard University, USA) ; Séta Papazian (President of
Collectif VAN, France) ; Dr. Hélène Piralian-Simonyan (Psychanalyst and Writer, Founding Member of AIRCRIGE France) ; Dr. Yasar Ozan Say (Visiting Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Bridgewater State University, USA) ; Dr. Gürel Tüzün (History Foundation, Turkey) ; Dr. Gündüz Vassaf (Psychologist, writer) ;
Dr. Ipek K. Yosmaoğlu (Assistant Professor, Northwestern University, USA).
Legal Actions Against Ragip Zarakolu
“Mr. Zarakolu's staunch belief in freedom of expression, his vocal campaign against book bannings, and
his persistence in publishing works that violate Turkey's repressive censorship laws have resulted in a catalog of indictments dating back to the early 1970s.”
Recent court cases against Ragıp Zarakolu and Belge Publishing House (until her death Ayşe Nur Zarakolu stood trial instead of him) include the following.
On 21 March 2002, Istanbul State Security Court (SSC) No. 1 heard the case of Ayşenur Zarakolu on charges of having disseminated separatist propaganda by publishing Songs of Freedom,
a book by Hüseyin Turhallı, former chairman of the Democracy Party (DEP) for Diyarbakır province. During the hearing Mr. Zarakolu stated that this would have been the 34th court case against his
wife, had she lived. On 4 June Istanbul SSC dropped the charges against her after establishing that Hüseyin Turhallı was living in France and Ayşenur Zarakolu died in January.
On 3 December 2003, Istanbul SSC acquitted Mr. Zarakolu of charges under Article 312 TPC. The trial had been opened for his translation of The Regime of 12 September on Trial, by Dr.
Gazi Çağlar of Hannover University.
On 10 September 2004, Istanbul Heavy Penal Court No. 14 (former Istanbul SSC No. 4) concluded the case against publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, owner of the newspaper Ülkede Özgür Gündem
(Free Agenda in the Country), Ali Çelik Kasimogullari and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Mehmet Çolak in connection with “Sana Ne” (What’s That to You), an article dated 8 March 2003. The court
sentenced Mr. Kasimogullari to a fine of TL 3.3 billion and Mr. Çolak to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine of TL 1.65 billion under Article 7/2 of the LFT (making propaganda for an illegal
organization). Mr. Çolak’s sentence was commuted to a total fine of TL 3.73 billion. Mr. Zarakolu’s file was separated due to legal change made regarding Article 312 TPC. He was to be tried at a
Penal Court. Beyoglu Penal Court No. 2 heard the case on 2 March 2005 and adjourned the hearing to 12 May. Further hearings were held on 21 September and 11 October 2005. Result unknown.
In December 2004, Mr. Zarakolu was first charged for publishing a Turkish translation of British author George Jerjian’s book The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks
Reconciled under Article 159 of the Turkish penal code, which made it illegal to “insult or belittle” various state institutions. That article was replaced in March 2005 with the now-infamous
Article 301, a new version of the insult law that conservative prosecutors have since used against dozens of writers, journalists, and publishers in Turkey (article 301was slightly amended on
April 30, 2008). On 20 September 2005 Istanbul Penal Court No 2 continued to hear the case against Mr. Zarakolu, in connection with The Truth Will Set Us Free.
The hearing was adjourned to 22 November for investigation of the expert report. The charges were related to Article 301 of the new TPC (June 2005). The latest two cases were combined and further
hearings were held on 21 November and 15 February, 19 April, 21 June and 14 December 2006. The next hearing was scheduled for 15 March 2007. On June 17, 2008, Mr. Zarakolu was convicted of
“insulting the State” under Article 301 for publishing Jerjian’s book. He was sentenced to a five-month prison term, which was reportedly subsequently commuted to a fine. He is appealing
In 2005–2007, Mr. Zarakolu was indicted for the Turkish translation of Prof. Dora Sakayan's book, An Armenian Doctor in Turkey. G. Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal in 1922 (Montreal,
1997). According to the indictment, Mr. Zarakolu was to be sentenced following Article 301 of the new Turkish Penal Code (Article 159 of the former Turkish Penal Code). This case had its first
hearing in August 2005, when the prosecutor demanded a six-year prison sentence for Zarakolu for “insulting the Army” and also “insulting Turkishness” by publishing this book. Attila Tuygan, the
translator of Dora Skayan’s book, testified as a defense witness and stated that as translator of the book, he held himself responsible. As a result, Zarakolu was acquitted, but a new trial
against the book under Article 301, with Tuygan held responsible, is still expected. On May 3, 2007, Mr. Zarakolu was acquitted in this case.
On June 10, 2010, a court acquitted Mr. Zarakolu of “spreading propaganda” for the banned Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law for publishing Mehmet Güler’s
book More Difficult Decisions Than Death. The case was initiated in May 2009, when the prosecutor initially stated that some parts of the novel evoke sympathy for the PKK, but at a hearing
on November 19, 2009, the prosecutor then pointed out that no crime had been committed and called for the two to be released. However, at the next hearing on March 25, 2010, another prosecutor
expressed the opposite view—that the book does provide terrorist propaganda. Mehmet Güler was convicted on the same charge and sentenced to 15 months in prison, but remains free pending
On March 10, 2011, Mr. Zarakolu was convicted of spreading propaganda to support the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) under article 7/2 of the Anti Terror Law, following the publication of
Mehmet Güler’s book The KCK File/The Global State and Kurds Without a State. Zarakolu was sentenced to a fine, and Güler to a 15-month suspended prison term. Mr. Zarakolu and Mr. Güler
both deny the accusation that the book promotes violence and state that they are both committed to greater understanding of—and a peaceful resolution to—Kurdish issues.
The first hearing took place September 30, 2010, and was attended by Maureen Freely, writer and translator of Orhan Pamuk’s recent novels, and Johann Hari, journalist for the Independent
newspaper, on behalf of English PEN. PEN Sweden also sent two representatives, the writer and PEN board member Firat Ceweri, and the writer Maria Modig. Mr. Zarakolu did not attend the trial due
to ill health, although the court issued a writ compelling him to attend. The trial was then postponed until December 2, 2010. On 10 March 2011, Mr. Zarakolu was fined, and author Mehmet Güler
given a suspended prison sentence of 15 months. The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International is troubled by the sentences against Mr. Zarakolu and Güler which contravene international
standards safeguarding the right to freedom of expression.
The publisher’s latest legal ordeal began on 4 October 2011.
Mr. Zarakolu spent a total of two years and half in prison, some of it in Turkey's F-style prisons, reputed for their isolation cells. Despite
his constant financial and medical struggles, he refuses to give up : “Whether it's a member of the European Community or not, Turkey must reform.
The citizens of Turkey demand their rights.”
Ragip Zarakolu's defense speech at his hearing on Sept. 21, 2005 about the accused book titled:
Experiences of an Armenian Doctor, Garabet Hacerian's Izmir Diary by Dora Sakayan.
“Honorable Members of the Court,
I believe that by publishing Dora Sakayan's grandfather's, Dr. Garabet Hacerian's diary which gives a witness account on the last days of Greek-Turkish war in the city of Izmir I helped an
aspect of a historical event to be brought up to daylight. Dora Sakayan is a professor at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. I was astonished that a case was opened against this book and the
Ministry of Justice approved it.
All wars are bad since they devalue human life and dignity. And the biggest victims of all wars are the civilians, the women, the old, the children. The main reason for war legislation and Geneva
War convention is to try to make sure that an inhuman event such as war is directed to a humane ground, even at a minimum level. One of the best ways to prevent new civil and other wars is to
extend a culture of peace, allowing the lessons of the previous wars to be learned. And that goes for all sides.
Talking about past sufferings, sharing pain helps people to let out painful feelings and go eventually beyond hostilities and understand the other. This brings unity and peace.
Garabet Haceryan was a loyal citizen of his country. Despite all tragic events, he served in Ottoman army and was discharged in 1918. He chose to live in Izmir. He did not panic at the
recapturing of the city by the Turkish army. He thought that his medals and documents would help him. But he faced the tragic events, told in the book. We owe him an apology. Publishing this book
can be counted as part of that apology. Therefore the accusation that the book insults Turkish national character or the Turkish army is totally unfair. All these events really happened. Banning
things will not change anything.
Moreover, the person who is the most responsible for the tragedy that took place in Izmir is Sakally Nurettin Pasha who led a mob to lynch the Izmir Ortodox Metropolit. He declared himself the
conqueror of Izmir and tried to profit from it politically. The same person was investigated by the Turkish Parliament for his cruelties during 1921 Kocgiri and Pontus events and his Central Army
was dispersed. Ismet Pahsa expressed his disgust at the lynching of journalist Ali Kemal who opposed the liberation war, by Nurettin Pahsa in Yzmit in 1922. Ismet Pasha thought he should have
been tried instead.
The indictment is utterly unfair. Dr. Haceryan talks about the atrocities of Greek army, too, as they retreated. The prosecutor claims the opposite. I would ask him to read the book more
carefully. Insult and getting information are very different notions but yet can be confused sometimes as this case is an example of this confusion. We, as publishers, were tried with a similar
charge for publishing a novel on the same issue 23 years ago in 1982, at Istanbul Martial Law Court. It was a novel by Dido Sotiriyu, titled "Give My Regards to Anatolia," the book had won Abdi
Ypekci Turkish-Greek Friendship Award. We were acquitted under the circumstances of the 12 September coup. We took our books back. Later on, Commandership of Land Forces bought 160 copies of that
book. Even under the extra ordinary conditions of that time there were many military judges who tried to be loyal to justice and were exiled as a result.
I am asking the court to withdraw the accusation about me which I believe totally unjust.