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Human Rights Activist, Publisher of Armenian Genocide Books Detained in Turkey

Police have detained publisher and human rights activist Ragıp Zarakolu in an operation targeting the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), which prosecutors say is an umbrella organization that also includes the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Today’s Zaman reports.

Zarakolu was detained on Friday night, the Anatolia news agency reported on Saturday. He is one of the 49 people detained in Istanbul on Friday as part of an ongoing investigation into the KCK, which is believed to operate as the urban wing of the PKK.

Zarakolu’s son, Deniz Zarakolu, was also detained in the anti-KCK operation on Oct. 7. PEN International, the worldwide association of writers, has condemned the detention of Deniz Zarakolu, a PhD student specializing in political thought at Bilgi University in Istanbul, and called for his immediate release.

On Saturday, Turkey’s Contemporary Journalists Association (ÇGD) condemned Ragıp Zarakolu’s detention, saying it harms freedom of the press and expression. In a statement, ÇGD Chairperson Ahmet Abakay also said Zarakolu should be released.

BDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş strongly criticized the new wave of detentions on Friday. “We will not be able to talk about a healthy constitution-making process if we go ahead like this. We will have no party member who can join efforts for [drafting] a new constitution,” Demirtaş said.

Ragıp Zarakolu was born in 1948 on Büyükada close to Istanbul. At that time his father, Remzi Zarakolu, was the district governor on that island. Ragıp Zarakolu grew up with members of the Greek and Armenian communities in Turkey.

Ragip Zarakolu’s Belge Publishing House has published numerous books on the oppression of national minorities in Turkey and on the Armenian Genocide, reports Scoop.co.nz.

He has published several books on the Armenian Genocide, such as George Jerjian’s “The Truth Will Set Us Free: Armenians and Turks Reconciled” and Professor Dora Sakayan’s “An Armenian Doctor in Turkey: Garabed Hatcherian: My Smyrna Ordeal of 1922” — which brought new criminal charges in 2005. In November 2007 Zarakolu published David Gaunt’s book “Massacres, resistance, protectors” about the Assyrian Genocide in Turkish (“Katliamlar, Direniş, Koruyucular”).