Publisher Ragıp Zarakolu, 2008 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize Winner, received a Lifetime Honorary Medal in Armenia, becoming the first Turk to take home the prestigious honour. IPA congratulates him and the Turkish Publishers Association (TPA), hoping that this spirit of cooperation between Turks and Armenians on the one hand and among the various stakeholders of the book chain on the other hand will pave the way to a successful Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012.
Turkish publisher Ragıp Zarakolu was awarded the Hagop Meghapart Lifetime Honorary Medal by the Armenian National Library, becoming the first Turk to win the honour. The owner of the Belge publishing house was presented his award at a ceremony held in the capital Yerevan on 15 February 2011. Ragıp Zarakolu said the award had great moral significance for him as he was the first Turk to take home the honour, although he said he believed more Turks would soon also win the honour. “There are many intellectuals like me in Turkey who do not fear expressing the pains in the country and take human rights as the basic criteria. Moreover, these people do not hesitate to use the word ‘genocide,’” he said, adding “Receiving this award is an honour for me. I might be the first, but I believe more Turkish intellectuals will win this medal”.
Says Jens Bammel, IPA Secretary General: “IPA congratulates publisher Ragıp Zarakolu on receiving this prestigious award. Once again we rise in deep respect for this publisher, to celebrate his courage and humanity, his love for different cultures and quest for truth and reconciliation. This Armenian National Award shows that, despite difficulties, Armenians and Turks can work together.
The opening of Armenia, which the award underlines, is a very promising sign for Yerevan World Book Capital 2012. As the initiator of the World Book Capital initiative, and as with all World Book Capitals since 2001, IPA will strive to contribute to the success of Yerevan, World Book Capital 2012”.
More about Ragıp Zarakolu, freedom to publish in Turkey and Armenia:
Ragıp Zarakolu is a Turkish publisher born in 1948. Since starting his publishing house Belge with his wife Ayse Nur in 1977, he has been subjected to harassment from the Turkish authorities. Ragıp Zarakolu refused to abandon his campaign for freedom of thought, striving “for an attitude of respect for different thoughts and cultures to become widespread in Turkey”. Over the years, the charges brought by the Turkish authorities against Ragıp Zarakolu and his wife resulted in imprisonment, confiscation and destruction of books, and the imposition of heavy fines, endangering the survival of the Belge publishing house.
Ragıp Zarakolu was condemned for the crime of « insulting Turkishness » under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code on in June 2008 for having published a book on the Armenian genocide entitled The Truth will set us free. Armenians and Turks reconciled by George Jerjian. This was the first conviction since the 30 April 2008 amendment to Article 301.
Zarakolu, who is also the Chairman of Freedom to publish committee of the Turkish Publishers Association (TPA), is the holder of many national and international awards for freedom of expression. He has also received an award from the Sarajevo-based International Association of Genocide Scholars, or IAGS, and freedom of expression awards from the Norwegian Writers’ Union and the Turkish Journalists’ Association.
Turkey has come a long way, freedom of expression wise since the 1990s, but much progress remains to be done: there are around 70 cases of writers and publishers on trial currently in Turkey, the majority on charges of defamation or insult to various Turkish institutions, or on charges related to commentary on the Kurdish or Armenian issues.
In Armenia, although freedom to publish is overall respected, there are other significant freedom of expression issues that need to be worked on.
For more, please see the joint IPA-PEN International-Index on Censorship UPR reports on Armenia and Turkey:
More about World Book Capital (WBC), Ljubljana WBC 2010, Buenos Aires WBC 2011 and Yerevan WBC 2012:
Every year, at the initiative of IPA, the International Booksellers Federation (IBF), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), UNESCO, and IPA designate a city as World Book Capital for the 12 months between two celebrations of World Book and Copyright Day (23 April). This initiative is a collaborative effort between the representatives of the main stakeholders in the book sector and the cities which have committed themselves to promote books and reading.
Yerevan was named as the “World Book Capital 2012” at the conclusion of the selection committee meeting, which was held at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters in July 2010. The city of Yerevan was selected “for the quality and the variety of its detailed, realistic, grass-roots programme, focusing on universal issues, and linking all the aspects and actors of the book chain”.
The current World Book Capital is Ljubljana, Slovenia (en.ljubljanasvetovnaprestolnicaknjige.si/home). Buenos Aires, Argentina, will be World Book Capital 2011 starting on 23 April this year. On 25 April 2011, on the occasion of the Buenos Aires Book Fair (20 April – 9 May), IPA will award its 2011 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize to a courageous publisher. See: www.capitaldellibro2011.gob.ar
The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the global non-governmental organisation representing all aspects of book and journal publishing worldwide. Established in 1896, IPA’s mission is to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing as a force for cultural and political advancement worldwide. IPA is an industry association with a human rights mandate. IPA currently has 65 member associations in 53 countries.
For further information, please contact:
Director, Freedom to Publish
International Publishers Association