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Academic, publisher formally indicted

UPDATE: Bursa Ersanli freed pending trial (Writers in Prison Committee, 16 July 2012)

(WiPC/IFEX) – 23 March 2012 – Istanbul's chief prosecutor has ordered the indictment of Büşra Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu this week. PEN International's Writers in Prison Committee protests the charges facing the writers and their continuing detention.

On 19 March 2012, Istanbul Public Prosecutor Adnan Çimen issued an indictment charging Professor Ersanlı with "leading an illegal organisation" and publisher Zarakolu with "aiding and abetting an illegal organisation". The prosecutor has demanded between 15 and 22.5 years for Ersanlı and 7.5 and 15 years for Zarakolu. The 2,400-page indictment was sent to the Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court and includes a total of 193 defendants, 147 of whom are currently in detention.

Professor Büşra Ersanlı and Ragıp Zarakolu were arrested on 28 October 2011. Forty one people were also arrested around the same time under what is known as the Democratic Society Congress (Koma Civaken Kurdistan – KCK) operation, which has been under way since 2009 and has lead to several hundred – some say over 1,000 – arrests and trials. The KCK is seen as the civil-political wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and thus also illegal.

Ersanli is an academic based at Marmara University's Faculty of Political Science and International Relations in Istanbul. She is an expert on constitutional law and at the time of her arrest was working with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party's (BDP) Constitutional Commission.

Zarakolu is a well-known publisher and political activist who has been fighting for freedom of expression and human rights in Turkey for over 30 years. Last month he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2012 by Swedish Members of Parliament. He is facing trial under the ATL for “membership in an illegal organisation” over a speech he made to the BDP and articles he has written.

Deniz Zarakolu, an academic and translator, was also arrested under anti-terror legislation after giving a lecture at the BDP's Political Science Academy. He was moved to Metris prison where his father, Ragip Zarakolu, is currently being held. Several other scholars linked to the Academy have also been arrested under anti-terror legislation, including Ayşe Berktay. Berktay, a scholar, author and woman's activist, has been held in pre-trial detention since October 2011; a formal indictment is yet to be issued.

Professor Büşra Ersanlı, Ragıp Zarakolu and Ayşe Berktay are honorary members of PEN Turkey.

Please send appeals:
- Expressing alarm at the continued detention of Ragıp Zarakolu, Professor Büşra Ersanlı, Ayşe Berktay and Deniz Zarakolu as well as other writers and journalists detained because of their alleged affiliation with Kurdish political parties.
- Referring to concerns that the arrests flout international standards protecting the rights to freedom of expression and association as guaranteed by both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human and Democratic Rights, to which Turkey is a signatory.

Send appeals to:
Mr. Sadullah Ergin
Minister of Justice
06669 Kizilay

Fax: 00 90 312 419 3370
Email: [email protected]

Appeals may also be sent to the Turkish ambassador in your country.

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