Monday, November 14, 2011

Turkey: An end to Freedom of Expression

The Turkish government, for the past two years, has been trying to stamp out and contending political parties. Ragip Zarakolu, owner and chief editor of the Belge publishing house, has been arrested several times with his final arrest on October 27 in Istanbul due to the materials that Zarakolu has been publishing. None of the pieces that Zarakolu ever published have advocated violence against other individuals; however, he does vocally express his belief in Kurdish rights. Busra Ersanh, also arrested in Istanbul on October 27, is on the political science and international relations board at Marmara University in Istanbul. Both Zarakolu and Ersanh are members of the Peace and Democracy Party, the party that is currently not in power. The Turkish Government has been bringing members of the Peace and Democracy Party to court charging them with crimes such as "aiming to destroy the unity and integrity of the state" and with "being a "member or leading member of the PKK" (hrw.org).
Since October 27 over 50 people have been arrested on similar charges as Zarakolu and Ersanh; the government is using Turkey's Anti-Terrorism Law as an excuse for arresting members of the Peace and Democracy Party. The Anti-Terrorism Law however, has a vague and extremely broad definition of what terrorism is, according to the Human Rights Watch. If convicted, Zarakolu, Ersanh, and hundreds of other people can face between 15 years to life in prison for simply stating their beliefs. Freedom of speech is something that, as Americans, is fundamentally engrained into our society that simply attempting to imagine not having them is impossible.

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