Arrested publisher Zarakolu says he is in Kafkaesque novel

We have been following the arrest and imprisonment of Ragip Zarakolu and his colleagues closely in the last few weeks. He has now been in prison since 1 November, and has written a letter to Hurriyet Daily News about his detention, which we reproduce below:

29 November 2011, Hurriyet

Prominent publisher, writer and activist Ragip Zarakolu, who was arrested last month within the scope of the ongoing Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) trials, wrote a letter to the Hürriyet Daily News from prison, casting light on his present condition.

“Everything has been proceeding in an exceedingly Kafkaesque manner since the start,” Zarakolu, recipient of numerous prestigious awards, said in his letter to the Daily News.

Zarakolu spoke about his efforts to be transferred to the same penitentiary where his son Deniz Zarakolu, a Ph.D. student in Istanbul’s Bilgi University, has been detained in the northwestern province of Edirne due to his alleged links with the KCK since the start of October.

“Deniz is in Edirne, and I am in Kandira. I handed over a petition to the Bakirköy Coordination Prosecutor’s Office for our situation to be rectified. I requested to be transferred next to my son in Edirne,” said Ragip Zarakolu, who is held in an F-type prison in the northwestern province of Kocaeli where dangerous convicts are kept.

“My only chagrin is that the prosecutor’s office declined to let me see [my wife] Catherine. Fortunately, the police turned out to be more merciful and enabled us to meet in the Besiktaş courthouse on the day of the trial,” Zarakolu said in his letter, which bore a written statement that it had been reviewed by a prison committee.

Zarakolu also said he served prison time in 1972 due to a book published by his Belge Publishing House. He said his health was in good condition despite all the difficulties he had to face and described his time behind bars as “days passed under dim lights in long corridors.”

He also said he had begun to learn Kurdish because some of his fellow inmates spoke no Turkish. “I am learning Kurdish to conduct daily human conversations. I am also teaching German to my friends.”

Zarakolu said he picked up Tolstoy’s “Resurrection” and began reading it again after a lapse of 40 years. “This book is extremely important for me to be able to compare the past and the present. ‘Resurrection’ is about the problematic of conscience and catharsis.”

Ragip Zarakolu was arrested Nov. 1 alongside prominent academic Büsra Ersanli and dozens of other suspects upon the order of an Istanbul court.

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