Ragıp Zarakolu

Erdoğan Files Criminal Complaint against Human Rights Activist Zarakolu

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STOCKHOLM (Stockholm Center for Freedom) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s lawyer has filed a criminal complaint against journalist Ragıp Zarakolu for a column he wrote, accusing him of “instigating a military coup d’état,” Deutsche Welle Turkish service reported on May 6.

Zarakolu’s column, titled “No Escape from Ill Fortune,” was published in the Evrensel newspaper and on the Arti Gerçek news website on May 5, drawing comparisons between Erdogan and former Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was hanged by a military junta after a takeover in 1960.

In his petition to the prosecutor, Erdoğan claimed that Zarakolu openly threatened him with a military putsch and execution, requesting that authorities investigate and charge him with crimes against the constitutional order and the president.

In addition to Zarakolu, Erdoğan’s petition also requested investigations into the executives of the Evrensel newspaper and the Arti Gerçek news website.

Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun has also filed a criminal complaint against Zarakolu over the same article.

Zarakolu made a statement in response to the accusations, claiming that his column has a content that goes against military coups and that he spent his life opposing them. “It is simply inexplicable that the article is misinterpreted to such an extent. It is understood that the Presidential spokespersons did not read the article adequately,” Zarakolu wrote.

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Underlining that everyone will need human rights and justice one day, Zarakolu has indicated that “he has struggled against coups and putschist tendencies all through his lifetime.”

Noting that he was also oppressed and threatened during the military coups on March 12, 1971 and on September 12, 1980, Ragip Zarakolu has said, “In 2006, I was threatened along with Hrant Dink by a circle which is now the pillar of the government” and added the following in brief:

“If the chaos plan did not come to fruition in 2007, it was because of the outburst of conscience that took place in all segments of the society in the face of Hrant Dink’s heinous assassination. The pro-coup circles shot themselves in the foot by massacring Hrant Dink.

“In 2011, I was taken into custody and arrested on ridiculous grounds. The group who arrested me, but then had to release me before even the trial began due to national and international outrage are now behind bars with their police, prosecutor and judge.”

In 2008 Zarakolu was convicted of “insulting the Turkish State” under Article 301 for acknowledging the Armenian Genocide. He was sentenced to a five-month prison term, which was subsequently commuted to a fine.

Turkey is a world leader in jailing journalists with more than 100 who are currently convicted or in pre-trial detention for their publications or social media posts. The country ranked 154th out of 180 countries in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). (turkishminute.com)

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