Bjorn Smith-Simonsen (Chair of IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee)
Eugene Schoulgin (Deputy-Chair of International PEN)
Sara Whyatt (Director of the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN)

In its annual report seven years ago, the Writers Union of Turkey Freedom to Publish Committee made the following prediction:

“The newly proposed Anti Terror Law (ATL) contains very grave provisions that may put the freedom of thought, expression and the press, as well as the freedom to publish under threat”.

And only a year later we were saying:

“Undoubtedly one of the most unfortunate developments of 2006 has been the revocation of certain positive changes that had been made to the ATL in the face of earnest warnings expressed by writers, journalists and publishers. In fact, these changes have the potential to create a far worse situation than that which used to exist. We would like to hope that the judiciary would embrace a more independent and free decision-making process that would allow freedom of expression to flourish. However, it’s abundantly clear that from a perspective of freedom of thought and publication: that the intention of the government and legislative branch is inadequate, as are the changes that they have enacted; that the changes made allow for contrary decisions based on conjecture; that a major shift in perspective is required in regard to fundamental rights and freedoms.

Sadly, after last year’s supposedly ‘reforming’ constitutional amendments, not only have areas of freedom of thought and expression been relentlessly subjected to attack, such basic rights as the right to assembly and association have also faced similar issues. The irreverent invasion of privacy has come to be perceived as the norm.  The elected representatives of the people, occupational associations and non-governmental organisations have also become targets.

It’s as if the ghost of 1950s McCarthyism has been resurrected. It’s the atmosphere of a State of Emergency;  it’s de facto martial rule. 

The ATL is no longer a piece of legislation which deals with ‘terrorism’; it has instead become a law which censors, a law which disregards fundamental rights and freedoms. As for the Special Authority Courts (SAC), they have turned into the Independence Courts, Supreme Court of Justice, Martial Law Courts of the past.  The ATL, is like a cancer, spreading the erosion and destruction of our country. It is a sad fact that our country is steadily becoming the country with the most political prisoners in the world.

That prison-building has been one of the most active areas for our construction industry is a painful fact.  The issue here isn’t about improving prison conditions, as raised by the discussions surrounding the recent Diyarbakir tragedy, but creating the conditions for a Turkey with less prisons.  Turkey does not need to create new Gulags, but to bring to life the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. If those who are in power are afraid of the formation of Tahrir Squares, we can only say to them: ‘fear is of no use to [the angel of] Death’ and that ‘every being is mortal’.

Serious breaches of freedom of thought/expression and fundamental rights in Turkey have been a cause of great concern internationally.  For these reasons, we will be holding a press meeting on Monday 2nd July 2012 at 16.00 at the TGC headquarters in Cagaloglu.  Representatives of international writers, publishers, press and human rights organisations that have come to Turkey to observe and support the KCK trials will also be in attendance.

Ragip Zarakolu
President, Writers Union of Turkey Freedom to Publish Committee


A. Dursun Yildiz’in Kitaplari:
•    Özgürlesmeye Pedagojik Bakis, 253 sayfa, Tohum Yayinlari, 2003.
•    Öteki Alevilik, 304 sayfa, Hasat Yayinlari 2001.
•    Sivil Itaatsizlik, Hasat Yayinlari, 219 sayfa, 2001.

Ayse Berktay’in  Derleme Çalismalari ve Çevirdigi Yapitlar:
•    Leslie P. Pierce, Harem-i Hümayun, Tarih Vakfi Yurt Y.1996.  
•    Donald Quataert, Osmanli Imparatorkugu 1700-1920, Iletisim y. 2000.
•    Halil Cibran, Ermis, Alkim Yayinlari, 2006.
•    75 Yilda Kadinlar ve Erkekler, ed. Ayse Berktay. Tarih Vakfi Yurt Y.1999.
•    “Cumhuriyet Boyu Bir Isçi Yasami: Zehra Kosova”,
•    Makarenko Yasami ve Eserleri, Ceylan Yayinlari 1997.
•    Suraiya Faroghi , Osmanli Imparatorlugu Ve Etrafindaki Dünya, 2007
•    Edhem Eldem, Osmanli Bankasi Tarihi,  Tarih Vakfi Yurt Y. 2000.
•    75. Yilda Çarklari Döndürenler, ed. Tarih Vakfi Yurt Y. 1999
•    75. Yilda Çarklardan Chiplere, ed. Tarih Vakfi Yurt Y. 1999
•    Stewart Lee Allen, Kahve Üzerinden Dünya Tarihi, Kitap Yayinlari.
•    Turkish civil and penal code reforms from a gender perspective: the success of two nationwide campaigns. [Ortak kitap].

Aziz Tunç’un Kitaplari

•    Aziz Tunç, Aleviligin Siyasal Alana Yansimalari, yakinda çikiyor.
•    Aziz Tunç, Maras Kiyimi / Tarihsel Arka Plan ve Anatomisi, 3. Baski, 405 sayfa, [PEN Temmuz 2011 Ayin kitabi] .
•    Aziz Tunç, Antik Çagdan Günümüze Maras Tarihi, yakinda çikiyor.

Büsra Ersanlinin Kitaplari, Derlemeleri ve Tercümeleri:

•    Iktidar Ve Tarih,  Afa Yayincilik 2000.
•    Türkiye’de ´Resmi Tarih´ Tezinin Olusumu (1929 – 1937, Iletisim Yayinevi 2003.
•    Tartisilan Sinirlar Degisen Milliyetçilik, [Anthony D. Smith, Benedict Anderson, Tom Nairn, vd. Birlikte],  Sehir Yayinlari 2001.
•    Türkiye Siyasetinde Kürtler; Direnis, Hak Arayisi, Katilim [diger yazarlarla birlikte],
Iletisim Yayinlari 2012.
•    Azerbaycan; Sözün Sazin Atesin Ülkesi,  Da Yayincilik 2004.
•    (Derleme) Bagimsizligin Ilk Yillari: Azerbaycan, Kazakistan, Kirgizistan, Özbekistan ve Türkmenistan, TC Kültür Bakanligi HAGEM Yayinlari, 1994.
•    (Derleme) Türk Cumhuriyetleri Kültür Profili: Azerbaycan, Kazakistan, Kirgizistan, Özbekistan, Türkmenistan, (A Culture Profile of The Turkic Republics) TC Kültür Bakanligi HAGEM Yayinlari, 1995.
•    (Ibrahim Mazlum ile) Her Yerde Her Zaman Siyaset: Türkiye’de Siyasal Kültür, Siyasal sistem ve Kadin (Politics Everywhere: Political Culture, Political System and Women in Turkey), KA-DER, Istanbul, 2008.
•    (Orazpolat Ekaev ile) Türkmenistan’da Toplum ve Kültür (Society and Culture in Turkmenistan), Kültür Bakanligi Yayinlari, 1998.
•    Akademik Arastirmalar Dergisi – Avrupa-Avrasya Özel Sayisi, Cilt 6 Sayi 23, Ocak 2005.
•    Jean Daubier, Çin Kültür Devrimi 1965-1969, Koral Yayinlari, 1977.
•    George Thomson, Kapitalizm ve Sonrasi, Tarihi Materyalizme Giris, Koral Yayinlari, 1978.
•    Ernest Gellner, Uluslar ve Ulusculuk [Günay Göksu ile], Hil Yayinlari, 2008.
•    Ed.: Herkül Millas, Türk Romani ve “Öteki”, Ulusal Kimlikte Yunan Imaji, Sabanci Ü. Y.,2000.
•    Ed.:Daniel Goffman, Osmanli Imparatorlugunda Ingilizler 1642-1660, Sabanci Ü. Y.,2001.

Cengiz Kapmaz’in Kitaplari:

•    Cengiz Kapmaz, Öcalan’in Imrali Günleri, Istanbul: Ithaki Yayinlari, 2011.

Cihan Deniz Zarakolu’nun Kitap ve Tercümeleri:
•    Cihan Deniz Zarakolu, Hobbes’un Siyaset Felsefesi, 300 sayfa, yakinda çikiyor.
•    J. Roney, P. Richmond, vd., Türkiye Cumhuriyetinde Hakim ve Avukatlarin Bagimsizligi, 304 sayfa, 2001.
•    Halid Fehmi, Pasanin Adamlari / Kavalali Mehmet Ali Pasa, Ordu ve Modern Misir, Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayinlari, 2010, 335 sayfa

Mahmut Alinak’in Kitaplari:

•    Tarihin Çarmihinda Günes Ülkesi , Jan Yayinlari, 2011
•    Siro’nun Atesi, Berfin Yayinlari, 1997
•    Nazo, Berfin Yayinlari 2008
•    Ateste Yikanmak , Berfin Yayinlari, 2010
•    Köpekler Manifestosu, Jan Yayinlari, 2012
•    HEP, DEP ve Devlet, Kaynak Yayinlari 1996

N. Mehmet Güler’in Kitaplari:

•    KCK Dosyasi : Küresel Devlet Devletsiz Kürtler , Belge Yayinlari, 2010
•    Sessiz Dans, Belge Yayinlari, 2009
•    Ölümden Zor Kararlar, Belge Yayinlari 2008

Yüksel Genç’in Kitaplari:

•    Barisa Tutunmak, Belge Yayinlari, 2006
•    Kürt Sorunu ve PKK: Tasfiye mi? Çözüm mü?, Aram Yayinlari, 2011

IPA Observers Call for Acquittal of Publisher Ragip Zarakolu

Geneva, 1st July 2012

As the Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK) trial begins tomorrow in Silivri, Turkey, the International Publishers Association (IPA) urges the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against publisher and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ragip Zarakolu. Zarakolu is charged with ‘aiding and abetting an illegal organization’ and is threatened with up to fifteen years in prison. IPA believes that he and several other writers and intellectuals are charged solely because of their writings and publishing. This violates Turkey’s international human rights obligations. While Zarakolu has been released under strict conditions, publisher Deniz Zarakolu and academic Büsra Ersanli remain in custody. IPA calls for their acquittal and release as well. Dozens of writers and publishers in Turkey are either held in prison, or are currently on trial.

An IPA delegation will be observing the first court hearing of the KCK trial. It will be led by IPA Board member and Chair of IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, Bjørn Smith-Simonsen.

Smith-Simonsen commented: “It is essential not to confuse the efforts of those who, like Zarakolu, have worked to bring down barriers of censorship in Turkey with those who press political agendas through violence. Ragip Zarakolu is an internationally recognised defender of the right to write and publish freely. He was nominated to this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. IPA emphatically protests the ongoing harassment of this outspoken, yet peaceful publisher who, for years, has been documenting the numerous freedom to publish violations in Turkey and has been an advocate of the freedom to publish of all publishers. IPA therefore urges the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against Zarakolu as soon as possible.

“Turkey is a signatory of international human rights treaties and is therefore under the obligation to observe individuals’ human rights, including in particular Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). IPA remains concerned that these rights will be denied to Zarakolu, and several other intellectuals, including Deniz Zarakolu and Büsra Ersanli, who should be released immediately. More writers are either in prison or on trial in Turkey than in any other country in the world.

“On 14 June 2012, the 29th IPA Congress adopted a resolution ‘rejecting the abuse of broad definitions of terms such as defamation, state security, state secrecy, or terrorism as dangerous inroads for censorship, harassment of the media, and undemocratic influencing. It is in the public interest to give openness and transparency their primary, due, and a prominent role in legislation’.”

Ragip Zarakolu was arrested on 28 October 2011. Forty-one people were also arrested around the same time under what is known as the Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK), or Democratic Society Congress, operation.  The KCK operation was initiated in 2009 and aims at cracking down on Kurdish political parties and has led to hundreds, even over one thousand arrests and trials. The KCK is seen as the civil/political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and thus illegal.

After his arrest, Zarakolu was moved to a high security “F-Type” prison in the city of Izmit, 80 kilometres east of Istanbul. He was held on pre-trial detention for more than 160 days between 4 November 2011 and 10 April 2012. It was only on 19 March 2012 that he was officially indicted under Turkish anti-terrorism legislation for “aiding and abetting an illegal organisation,” a charge that could carry a 15-year sentence.

Zarakolu was one of fifteen suspects accused of membership in the KCK who were released pending trial on 10 April 2012. The Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court cited the length of time suspects had already been imprisoned, “the nature of their crimes” and “the state of the evidence” as reasons why the fifteen suspects were released.

Zarakolu’s lawyers have been denied access to the investigation file and related documents for months. It appears that his arrest and pre-trial detention were based solely on his attendance of two public meetings of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a legal organisation. This is unacceptable and seriously questions the rule of law in Turkey. Zarakolu’s lawyers have therefore filed an application to the European Court of Human Rights, accusing Turkey of violating articles 3, 5 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, recently declared that 1,000 of the pending cases before the European Court of Human Rights concern freedom of expression in Turkey. Turkey is actually the country which regularly gets the highest number of convictions by the European Court on Human Rights, ahead of Russia. Presently, Turkey has more writers and journalists in prison than any other in the world. All of this is incompatible with the values of a free and democratic society.

For more information, please visit:

More about Freedom to Publish in Turkey:

The EU Commission’s 2011 Turkey Progress report stressed that legal amendments to the Turkish anti-terror legislation are needed to comply with various rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. IPA has also witnessed an increasing use of the anti-terror law (ATL) to stifle freedom to publish in Turkey in the last couple of years. ATL has long been criticised as being too vague in its definition of terrorism and terrorist organisations. This coupled with the lengthy trial processes, sometimes years long, makes the application of the ATL particularly problematic.

On 25 October 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in Altug Taner Akçam v. Turkey that Article 301 TPC as amended in 2008 still violates Article 10 of the ECHR. IPA and PEN International support their Turkish members’ request that Article 301 be repealed. Following the recent explosion of obscenity cases under Article 226 TPC, IPA also supports its Turkish members’ request that the Prime Ministerial Board for the Protection of Children from Harmful Publications be disbanded as it insists on banning literature for adults which has been described by the European Court of Human Rights as “belonging to the European literary heritage”.
IPA further notes with concern the ruling made by Istanbul’s 14th High Criminal Court in August 2011 that the printer of a book be considered “like its author”.  This was used to condemn the owner of Berdan Printing House, Sadik Dasdögen, to a 9-month prison sentence in absentia for printing a book that included interviews of Abdhullah Öcalan. Dasdögen was convicted of “spreading propaganda for an illegal organisation”. If the printers are held responsible for the books they print, the consequences on freedom of expression, freedom to write, and freedom to publish in Turkey could be severe.

To curb the flow of freedom of expression and freedom to publish trials in Turkey, Turkish legislation (Articles 125, 216, 301 […] TPC, Law 5816, Anti-terror legislation, etc.) and practice should be amended to meet international standards, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Turkey was reminded of this by its peers when it came under review during the 8th Session of the Universal Periodical Review (UPR) of the UN Human Rights Council in May 2010 in Geneva. To see the joint submission on Turkey to the UPR Working Group of IPA, PEN International and Index on
Censorship, please go to:

More about IPA:

The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the global non-governmental organisation representing all aspects of book and journal publishing worldwide. Established in 1896, IPA’s mission is to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing as a force for cultural and political advancement worldwide. IPA is an industry association with a human rights mandate. IPA currently has 65 member associations in 53 countries.

For further information, please contact:

Alexis Krikorian           
Director, FTP               
3, avenue de Miremont                       
Tel: +41 22 704 1820
[email protected]