RSF strongly condemns arrest of columnist
and publisher in Turkey
By Reporters Without Borders
November 3, 2011
PARIS,— Reporters Without Borders
strongly condemns columnist and publisher Ragip
the evening of 28 October, when he and around 40
other people were arrested in a round-up of
pro-Kurdish activists in Istanbul.
“Turkey’s anti-terrorist law is yet again being
abused in an attempt to silence those who speak out
about the sensitive issue of minorities,” Reporters
Without Borders said, calling for his immediate
release. Zarakolu writes for the left-wing daily
Günlük Evrensel and heads the Editions Belge
publishing house in Istanbul.
The arrests were carried out as part of an
investigation into the Union of Kurdistan
Communities (KCK), a group affiliated to the banned
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
No official reason has so far been given for
Zarakolu’s arrest. His lawyer,
Ragıp Zarakolu arrested in Turkey in KCK probe.
Özcan Kiliç, said he was questioned about several
articles he wrote for the pro-Kurdish magazine Özgur Gündem, in which he
referred to trips abroad since 2001, and about his
participation in the inauguration of the Istanbul
Political Academy, which was searched on 28 October.
He appeared on Tuesday before a prosecutor in
Last March he was convicted of terrorist propaganda
for publishing a book by the author Mehmet Güler
entitled “The global state and the stateless Kurds”.
He appealed against the conviction and the case is
currently before Turkey’s highest court of appeal.
02.08.2010 - Another trial against Kurdish minority
Reporters Without Borders condemns the department of
public prosecution’s decision to bring a new
prosecution against writer Mehmet Güler and
publisher Ragip Zarakolu. This time they are to be
prosecuted for a book about the political system
that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
would like to introduce.
In a trial due to begin on 30 September before an
Istanbul assizes court, Güler and Zarakolu are
facing at least eight months in prison if convicted
on charges of “publishing PKK statements” and “PKK
propaganda.” The PKK has been waging an armed
struggle for Kurdish independence since 1984 and is
on a government list of terrorist organisations.
Published by Editions Belges and entitled “The KCK
File: Global State and Kurds without a State”, the
book was immediately confiscated and banned when it
was made available at a book fair in the
southeastern city of Diyarbakir in May. “KCK” are
the initials of the “democratic confederalism” that
the PKK proposes for Turkey.
Prosecutor Hakan Karaali is bringing his case under
articles 6 and 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Law, which
has been used to prosecute many Kurdish journalists
and news media,www.ekurd.net
and to impose long jail terms.
Zarakolu said he published the book in order to
satisfy “the right of readers to information” and to
present “an alternative version of the facts.” Güler
said he “avoided using language that is to anyone’s
benefit or detriment.” The author added: “The
Kurdish political parties are banned. Former
ministers, intellectuals, human rights activists and
lawyers are jailed. Citizens have a right to know
what is going on. I wrote this book in an entirely
Güler and Zarakolu have just been tried before
another Istanbul court of assizes in connection with
an earlier book, entitled “Decisions harder to take
than death.” The court acquitted Zarakolu but
sentenced Güler to 15 months in prison on 10 June on
a charge of PKK propaganda.
Reporters Without Borders is worried about the
situation of press freedom and media in Turkey amid
mounting judicial harassment of journalists,
especially those working for Kurdish media. It
particularly concerned about new resolutions
regarding TV news broadcasts that the government
adopted on 15 July.
Interior minister Besir Atalay announced that the
Radio and TV Supreme Council had decided, in
agreement with national TV station executives, that
“certain principles must be followed in situations
of terrorist risk and other extraordinary
circumstances.” Under these “principles,” TV
stations undertake to limit the length and frequency
of news flashes.
Another resolution, which has all the hallmarks of a
veiled warned to the media, stressed that TV
executives had a duty to avoid broadcasting
“programmes, interviews or statements that appear to
justify terrorist actions or are likely to be
interpreted as propaganda on behalf of the people
responsible for attacks or as encouraging future
The interior minister hailed “these very decisive
positions regarding terrorism” but the Contemporary
Association of Journalists has warned that they are
“likely to result in abuses.”
Reporters Without Borders fears that the vague
working of these resolutions will be open to
different interpretations and will encourage TV
stations to censor themselves. Combined with the
Anti-Terrorism Law, they could provide the
authorities with new grounds for arbitrary arrests
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