2007: Turkey: Ragip Zarakolu

December 27th 2007

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Office of the Prime Minister

Your Excellency,

PEN International continues to make appeal to Your Excellency to further your efforts in the field of Human Rights, and it is our unfortunate impression that the progress is slow. Turkish human rights monitors are unhappy with the lack of progress in reforms. Reports refer to the systematic use of torure in detention centres, lapses in fair trial practices, restrictions on the use of Kurdish in some areas of civil society, and, the remaining abundance of laws that curtail freedom of expression.

We continue to raise our voice in protest against the trial case against publisher Ragip Zarakolu, which drags into 2008. Mr Zarakolu registers with that there has been a drop in the number of titles banned, compared to 2006. However, responsibility has been transferred to translators. A report lists no less than 43 trials against books and publishers in 2007.

Article 301 in your criminal code is still being used, for instance in the cases against Irfan Ucar and Umur Hozatli, journalist and editor.

PEN protests that the trial against Ragip Zarakolu continues, over two years since it opened. PEN urges an end to the continuing trails against other writers and journalists under article 301. These trials are in contravention of international standards protecting the right to freedom of expression, and to which Turkey is a signatory.
With reference to these internationally recognised conventions we strongly appeal to Your Excellency and to the authorities in general to repeal Article 301 completely and to drop the current cases based on this article.

With sincere best wishes

Aase Gjerdrum
Member of Writers in Prison Committee

Cc: Turkish Embassy in Oslo
Minister of Justice, Ankara