2012 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee publisher Ragıp Zarakolu spent close to 6 months in a F-type high security prison between 1 Nov. 2011 and 10 April 2012. The prosecutor has demanded between 7.5 and 15 years in prison for Ragıp. This IPA Freedom to Publish Committee blog aims at shedding light on his case and urges the Turkish authorities to drop all charges against him.
The Belge Publishing House was founded by Ragıp Zarakolu and his late wife Ayşe Nur in 1977.
Until the military coup of 12 September 1980, the Belge publishing house mostly published academic and theoretical books. Afterwards Belge started to publish a series of books written by political prisoners. This series of 35 books consisted of poems, shorts stories, and novels.
The list of Belge’s publications includes more than 10 books (translations) of Greek literature, 10 books on the Armenian Question and 5 books related to the Jews in Turkey. There are also many books dealing with the Kurds in Turkey. For example, Tunceli Kanunu (1935) ve Dersim Jenosidi by İsmail Beşikçi. Ragıp Zarakolu has also published several books on the Armenian issue, such as George Jerjian’s The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled or Vahakn N. Dadrian’s Jenosid (see cover above). The latter was a translation of Dadrian’s Autopsie du génocide arménien (Ed. Complexe, Bruxelles). In so doing, Belge was the first Turkish publishing house to publish a book on the Armenian genocide in the mid-1990s, attacking upfront one the big five taboos limiting freedom of expression in Turkey: a. Sharia Law/Political Islam, b. the Army, c. Kemalism, and – arguably the two largest – d. The Kurdish Issue/Kurdish Separatism, and e. the Armenian Issue/Genocide. Following the publication of Jenosid, the offices of Belge publishing were firebombed, forcing the publishing house to find shelter in an old town cellar.
Today, the very survival of the Belge publishing house is really at risk, Ragıp having spent 6 months in a high security prison and still being prosecuted, and his son Deniz still being detained.