ISTANBUL—Amid an international outcry over Turkish government attacks on the press and imprisonment of journalists, a Turkish court on Thursday convicted activist and publisher Ragip Zarakolu for publishing a book on the Kurds. The court also convicted the author of the book, Mehmet Guler.
The court charged both Zarakolu and Guler with “publishing statements of the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party]” and “spreading PKK propaganda.”
Zarakolu, who is no stranger to harassment by government officials and has been imprisoned for his views, published Guler’s book, “The KCK file/Global State and Kurds Without a state,” which was immediately banned upon its unveiling last May at the Diyarbakir book fair.
The Court handed down a one year and three months prison sentence to writer Güler and 20,000 Turkish Lira fine for Publisher Ragip Zarakoluz. However, they each face a seven-year, six-month prison sentence.
“I wrote this book as the result of a ten-year research. I put forward my own findings which have nothing to do with organizational propaganda,” said Guler during the beginning of the trial in September.
Zarakolu, 63, has been fighting for freedom of expression in Turkey for more than 30 years, publishing books on issues including minority and human rights. Zarakolu’s case is emblematic of the ongoing struggles many writers, publishers and freedom of expression and human rights activists face in Turkey.
The Turkish publisher and activist last month visited Yerevan, where he was honored by the National Library with a medal. In his remarks in Armenia, Zarakolu stressed the importance for Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide.