As the Turkish Evrensel website informs, the Swedish MPs mentioned in their proposal that Zarakolu published materials on the Armenian Genocide and the Kurdish issue which are taboos in Turkey.
He has been sentenced for that publications several times.
One month ago Zarakolu has sent a letter to the Turkish parliament calling them to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
“Yes, Turkey must face its history. It is not only an obligation towards the victims but also a duty for securing healthy way of thinking for the society. The acknowledgement of the genocide will not belittle Turkey but will strengthen it,” Zarakolu wrote.
RAGIP ZARAKOLU (Writer, publisher and human rights activist)
Sent by the Committee for Solidarity with Zarakolu
Born in 1948 on Büyükada. He graduated from the School of Economics of the Istanbul University after his primary and secondary educations in Selim Sirri Tarcan Primary School (Nisantasi), Findikli and Kabatas High Schools. He got a master’s degree in the same school. He was obliged to discontinue his doctorate twice because of a military coup of 1971 and Prof. Dr. Cahit Orhan Tütengil’s having murdered by paramilitary forces.
In 1971, Zarakolu was tried in the ‘Sadi Alkiliç’ case (as the first amnesty campaign in Turkey) on charges of secret relations to Amnesty International with several intellectuals such as Prof. Azra Erhat who has translated Homeros from Greek; Criminal Law Professor Çetin Özek; Pianist Magdelana Rufer; Vedat Günyol and Sebahattin Eyüboglu who were pioneers of Humanism in Turkey; journalists Osman Arolat ve Aydin Engin; Tilda Gökçeli who is wife of Yasar Kemal; youth leaders Harun Karadeniz and Masis Kürçügil; speaker Erdal Boratap; Dr. Nihat Sargin who was one of leaders of TIP (Turkey’s Workers’ Party). Why those persons league together is their correspondence with Selma Ashwird from Amnesty International. This fictitious case collapsed, but, during trials, Çetin Özek had a nervous break down in Harbiye cells and Sebahattin Eyüboglu (who has been chairman of the National Education Ministry Translation Board organizing translations of the world’s classics to Turkish in 1940’s, and charged of sending Tolstoy’s War and Peace to Nazim Hikmet who has been in prison in 1945) was died from heart attack. Zarakolu spent five months in prison, before the charges were dropped. But, in 1972, he was sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment for his article in the journal Ant on Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnam War. This was a price of protesting the Vietnam War by courts martial. He stayed in Selimiye Prison and was released in 1974 following a general amnesty. He wanted to continue his doctorate abroad, but he could not take passport. In 1977, Zarakolu and his wife established Belge Publishing House in Istanbul. First case was brought against him for his translation of Oskar Lange’s The Role of the State in Monopoly Capitalism. And charges brought against the couple resulted in imprisonment for both Aysenur and Ragip Zarakolu, the wholesale confiscation and destruction of books and the imposition of heavy fines.
In 1979, Zarakolu founded the daily newspaper Demokrat with 36 intellectuals and writers and took responsibility for the news desk on foreign affairs. The paper was banned with the military coup of 12 September 1980 and Ragip Zarakolu was shortly imprisoned in 1982 in connection with this position in Demokrat; this case ended 8 years later. He was banned from leaving the country between 1971 and 1991.
In 1981, Zarakolu established Alternatif Publishing House and started to publish “L’etat Monde” annuals. In 1982, he founded Alan Publishing House with Emil Galip Sandalci and Arslan Baser Kafaoglu.
In 1986, he became one of 98 founders of the Human Rights Association in Turkey with many intellectuals such as Emil Galip, Aziz Nesin, Murat Belge, Prof. Nuri Karacan, Akin Birdal. He himself took part in establishing its Istanbul branch and participated in the international rights congresses and forums in Madrid, Marseille, Cairo, Valette, Paris (during the 50th Anniversary of Human Rights Declaration) and Vienna. He went to Britain and North Irland to study the detention conditions. In 1987, he became one of founders of the Turkey Social History Foundation.
During 1980’s, in Belge, Zarakolu began to turn his attention to history of the left, abuses of human rights by governments in South America and elsewhere, basic human rights documents, alternative history. He confronted many cases owing to his published books. Afterwards Belge published a series of books written by political prisoners. The series of 35 books consisted of poems, shorts stories, novels. The list of publications include many books (translations) of Greek literature and on the Armenian Question, including George Jerjian’s The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled, Professor Dora Sakayan’s An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922 —which brought new criminal charges in 2005 and David Gaunt’s book Massacres, Resistance, Protectors, and on the Jews in Turkey. There are also a number of books dealing with the Kurds in Turkey. Belge also brought the subject of Pontos, another tatoo, up for discussion, published the books about population exchange for the first time in Turkey and took up comprehensively the themes such as torture, losses, forced migration, freedom of though. In 1995, Belge Publishing House office was firebombed by a far right group, forcing it to be housed in a cellar.
Also court cases against Zarakolu and Belge include one for publishing the HRW report showing the infringements of war law. On the other hand, Belge published the international reports concerning the Police Reform, the independence of judiciary in Turkey during 1990’s and early 2000’s. The cost of all efforts was the banning of more than 40 books and the imprisonment of his wife for 2 years. In 1980’s, for Zarakolu’s wife who was the owner of Belge has been imprisoned; bad imprisonment conditions caused a kidney disease resulting in late diagnosis of her cancer and her consequential death at 56.
On the other side, the Human Rights Association is trying to call attention to the situation of writers, intellectuals and journalists who were on trial due to their thoughts by granting an award of freedom of thought each year under the name of Aysenur Zarakolu Award. Those awarded included Hrant Dink.
Zarakolu is writing articles on the opposing press since 1969, but he is still deprive of professional yellow press card. Since 1991, he is writing on the newspaper Özgür Gündem giving voice to the Kurdish Question under the heaviest conditions and became editor-in-chief of this newspaper time to time for solidarity. He is writing for the newspapers Evrensel, Birgün, Radikal and Taraf from time to time. He is also columnist of the newspaper Evrensel.
Zarakolu and his wife raised two children within this hullabaloo, Deniz and Sinan. Deniz who is essentially civil engineer is one of the editors at the Belge Publishing House and a Ph.D. student at Bilgi University; his doctorate left half finished due to his arrest like his father. Sinan is architect and musician.
Zarakolu, in 2004, married a photograph artist Katherine Holle. Thus, to his family, two children added : Seref who is a graduate of the New York University and having medical education; and Zerrin who is a student of the New York Bard College. ([email protected])
Zarakolu dans une lettre de campagne adressée à Sarkozy
Le Collectif VAN a préparé la lettre suivante au Président de la République afin que le gouvernement de Nicolas Sarkozy défende, devant le Conseil Constitutionnel, la loi pénalisant la négation des génocides et que le Président puisse la promulguer au plus vite.
"Je me permets de vous adresser ce courrier suite à l’adoption, le 23 janvier 2012, de la loi sanctionnant la pénalisation des génocides reconnus par la France. Notre immense soulagement a été de courte durée puisque le Conseil Constitutionnel a été saisi par des parlementaires de tous bords pour faire invalider cette loi.
"Citoyen(ne) de cette République française des droits de l’homme, j’en appelle à vous afin que vous preniez les mesures qui s’imposent, car vous seul – ou votre gouvernement – êtes habilité à défendre, devant le Conseil constitutionnel, la loi pénalisant la négation des génocides et à faire obstacle à ceux qui, de facto, préfèrent protéger l’Etat turc plutôt que leurs propres concitoyens.
"L’acharnement de certains parlementaires français est d’autant plus malvenu qu’il répond à une demande de l’ambassadeur de Turquie en France, adressée aux opposants à la loi. Cette ingérence représente une violation du mandat de tout diplomate étranger et porte atteinte aux conditions essentielles de la souveraineté nationale.
"J’apprends que si la loi venait à être invalidée vous déposeriez dans les plus brefs délais un nouveau texte de loi. Cela vous honore, mais ce serait trop tard au vu du calendrier parlementaire de cette année électorale. La presse turque se gausse de vos réactions en faisant référence à un message que vous auriez envoyé au Premier ministre Erdogan après le vote de la loi, lui signalant que vous aviez 15 jours pour la promulguer. Ce qui, selon les observateurs turcs, signifie : « Je vous donne une chance de convaincre les politiques français. » (HDN du 02/02/12).
"Il me paraîtrait assez incroyable qu’après vos engagements forts en faveur d’une loi pénalisant un négationnisme odieux, diligenté sur les territoires de la République par un Etat tiers, vous ayez finalement cédé aux pressions et manipulations négationnistes : cela reviendrait à encourager, en France, la contestation de tous les génocides et de mettre en péril la Loi Gayssot, comme vous l’avez souligné à juste titre.
"Le premier ministre turc, M. Erdogan, a fait preuve depuis décembre 2011, d’une grossièreté indicible à l’encontre de votre père, de vous-même, et de la France. Que celle-ci s’abaisse devant l’arrogance d’un État négationniste serait tout simplement impensable. Sans compter que cette démission porterait un coup terrible à tous les démocrates turcs qui se sont engagés – au péril de leur vie – en faveur de la loi, seule garante, selon eux, d’une démocratisation de la Turquie.
"A l’heure où l’on apprend que l’éditeur Ragip Zarakolu, qui du fond de sa prison turque a soutenu ce texte, est officiellement candidat pour le Prix Nobel de la Paix, je vous adjure de tenir vos promesses et de contribuer à redonner à la France la place qu’elle a toujours tenue dans le combat contre l’oppression."
Le Collectif VAN appelle ses lecteurs à adresser cette lettre à l’Elysée. (http://www.collectifvan.org/article.php?r=0&id=61032)