18th March 2008
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Office of the Prime Minister
The recent years has seen a series of trials against publisher Ragip Zarakolu. He is charged with “insult” under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. It seems that around 20 other writers, publishers, journalists and academics are on trial under the same article.
This article is being used to bring a great number of people to the courts solely for having legitimately expressed their opinions, in direct violation of international rights standards.
PEN urges Turkey to bring about an elimination of this undignified article from its criminal code.
International PEN continues to feel deeply concerned about Ragip Zarakolu, and that the 8th April 2008 trial hearing against him may result in imprisonment. PEN has long campaigned against the application of Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. The application is seen as a clear deviation from the international standards safeguarding the right to freedom of expression to which Turkey is committed.
Once again, Your Excellency, I urge you to look into Ragip Zarakolu’s case and that of others being prosecuted under the same article.
With sincere best wishes
Member of Writers in Prison Committee of Norwegian PEN