invite you to a Vigil on

1) 22 November (7pm onwards) outside Buckingham Palace at Buckingham Gate
2) 23 November morning at 10.30 till noon at Buckingham Gate
23 November afternoon 1-2.30pn opposite Downing St, Whitehall


& a meeting on 23 November 5pm to support Ragip Zarakolu, detained by the Turkish State in a high security prison
At 1 Parliament St., Parliamentary Offices, Houses of Parliament
(on the corner of Parliament Square and Bridge St. next to the Parliamentary Bookshop)

Last week, in a speech criticising the oppressive situation in Syria (for which he was lauded by “the international community”), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Mr Assad to respond to demands to stop using violence. ‘No regime can survive by killing or jailing’, Mr. Erdogan, the hypocrite, said: ‘No one can build a future over the blood of the oppressed’.

Yet, in Turkey, he presides over a government that continues to engage in these very crimes. We urge him to heed his own advice. The Turkish government  continues to engage in violence and state terror to perpetrate genocide and war crimes, whilst imprisoning thousands of people (many in isolation) – intellectuals, publishers, academics, trade unionists, ‘pro-Kurdish’ politicians, human rights activists, students, journalists, musicians and journalists – in his pursuit of a military as opposed to a peaceful resolution of the ‘Kurdish’ and ‘Other Questions’.

Our vigil on 22nd November and the meeting on 23rd November seeks to draw public attention to our calls for justice and our opposition to these shameful and criminal Turkish state practices. Nearly 4,000 people have been arrested in the past 30 months alone. According to the worldwide writers association PEN, Turkish authorities have arrested up to 1,000 scholars, writers, publishers and rights advocates alone during a two-year crackdown. The head offices of the Human Rights Association (İHD), the Education and Science Workers’ Union (Eğitim-Sen) and the Health and Social Service Workers Union (SES) in the south-eastern city of Urfa have also been raided with members detained. Kemal Aydin, Executive of the Association for Solidarity and Support of Relatives of Disappeared People (YAKAY-DER) has been detained. In the most recent wave of detentions in October, internationally recognized freedom of expression advocate and human rights publisher Ragip Zarakolu was detained and placed in a high security prison, pending trial. There are very real fears for his safety and well-being, and we wish to express our concern that such detentions and the attempt to criminalise popular mobilisations against these crimes being perpetrated by the Turkish government and armed forces must be exposed and brought to an immediate end.

Under the guise of ‘anti-terrorism’ initiatives, no one is ‘safe’ any longer. The Turkish Prime Minister’s warning to those protesting against Ragip Zarakolu’s detention merely highlights the extent to which matters have reached crisis point. As the Director of Belge, Ragip has published key path-breaking books on the Armenian, Assyrian-Syriac, Greek, Kurdish and ‘Other’ genocides and the nature of Turkish state terror. He is the recipient of Turkey’s Journalist’s Society’s (2007) Press Freedom Prize, the International Association of Genocide Scholars’ (2007) Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Battle Against Deniers of the Armenian Genocide and All Denials of Genocides, the International Publishers Association’s (2008) Freedom to Publish Prize and the Hakop Meghapart Medal of Honour Lifetime Achievement Award (2011) from the Armenian Human Rights Association. He is currently a nominee for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. As European Federation of Journalists President, Arne König, clarifies: “The arrest of a journalist and well-known intellectual under the pretext of terroristic activities is clearly arbitrary and abusive … It shows how eager the government is to muzzle any critical voice by using anti-democratic methods”.

Several intellectuals, including Murat Belge and Yaşar Kemal, have clarified that: “The [recent] detention of Professor Büşra Ersanlı is [also] a heavy blow dealt to Turkey’s efforts towards a real democracy with equality, peace, social justice and academic and political freedoms. We demand the immediate release of Professor Büşra Ersanlı and all other jailed politicians, academics and journalists who work for peace, democratic rights and freedoms in our country”. The Platform for Solidarity with Arrested Journalists (TGDP) has also cautioned: “Who is next? The terror of mass detentions and arrests against Kurdish politicians who act in accordance with the Anti-Terror Law (TMY) and against journalists is a direct attack on free speech, freedom of demonstration and assembly and press freedom. TMY operations have no credibility at all with unfounded allegations”.

To the Ankara Initiative for Freedom of Thought, the Anadolu Culture and Research Association, the Effort, Peace and Democracy Party, the Modern Lawyers Association – Ankara Branch, the Freedom in the Revolutionary Way, the Federation of Democratic Rights, the Revolutionary 78’s Federation, the Proletarian Movement Party, the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, the Lever, Struggle Solidarity and Socialist Democracy Party, the Socialist Party of Laborers, the Socialist Future Party Initiative, the 78’s Initiative and the Partisan, Social Freedom initiative:

Hezbollah butchers who buried people alive in the Kurdish Geography are being released one after another. We call out to all components of the hegemonic apparatus which are accomplices of the genocide in this country, including the AKP government. You have no justice, your democracy is fake, your human rights discourse is eyewash! … We do not expect “justice” from you, too. As we memorialize our Akhparik Hrant [Dink] in the fourth year, we declare that we will continue to expose racist-genocidal practices which were conducted against Armenians, Nestorians, Chaldeans, Syrian Orthodoxes, Pontus and Aegean Greeks in the past and which are conducted against Kurds, Alevis, Romani-Gypsies today and the denial policies.

Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Group Vice President Hasip Kaplan has noted that ongoing ‘operations’ in Turkey represent a “policy of war”, not “a policy of negotiation”: “The Kurdish issue is a problem with political, economic, social, cultural, historical extents and its solution must be ensured at the Parliament through peaceful and democratic means … [But] the way [it is] following is the way of crimes against humanity and genocide”. The genocide claims have been backed up by the findings of key genocide scholars, including Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (Professor Emerita at Abo Akademi University, Vasa, Finland).

For Emma Sinclair-Webb of Human Rights Watch: “The arrests of Ragip Zarakolu and Büşra Ersanlı represent a new low in the misuse of terrorism laws to crush freedom of expression and… We are seeing the Turkish police casting the net ever wider in the crackdown on legal pro-Kurdish association in Turkey politics ”. In his first letter from prison, sent through his lawyer Özcan Kiliç, Ragip has stated that: “My arrest and the accusation of membership of an illegal organization are parts of a campaign aiming to intimidate all intellectuals and democrats of Turkey and particularly to deprive the Kurds of any support”.  We call for your solidarity!

For information contact  07588256783
& Peace in Kurdistan Campaign tel 020 7586 5892