By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Boos: ‘Stand Up for the Safety and Freedom of Exiles’Following Publishing Perspectives‘ story (July 6) and the International Publishers Association‘s cautionary alerts, additional support for Turkish exiles in the Swedish and Finnish NATO membership process has come today (July 7) from the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s publishers and booksellers association, and Frankfurter Buchmesse.
“In connection with the agreement on Sweden and Finland joining NATO,” Frankfurt Book Fair and the Börsenverein write, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for the extradition of Turkish exiles who are classified as ‘terrorist suspects’ in their home country.
“Also on his list is Ragıp Zarakolu, a Turkish publisher and human rights activist who has been in exile in Sweden since 2012. The German Book Trade Association and Frankfurter Buchmesse condemn Erdogan’s swap deal and call on Sweden and Finland to stand their ground.”
At issue, as you’ll remember, is a fear that Zarakolu, now in his 70s—the 2008 IPA Prix Voltaire laureate for valor in publishing under state pressure—could be the subject of an extradition order from Ankara if Erdogan’s demands on NATO were agreed.
Zarakolu, himself at one time the chair of the Turkish Publishers’ Association’s freedom to publish committee, had the protective support of ICORN, the International Cities of Refuge Network, in finding safe haven in Sweden.
In today’s media messaging, Peter Klaus vom Cleff, general manager of the Börsenverein, is quoted, saying, “Neither Ragıp Zarakolu nor other Turkish publishers, authors and intellectuals living in exile may be handed over to the Turkish regime in order to accelerate NATO entry.
“Such trade is irresponsible , both legally and in humanitarian terms.
“The Turkish government has been taking action against people like Zarakolu for decades. Zarakolu has been imprisoned several times for his commitment to freedom of expression, and his books have been banned.”
And Juergen Boos, president and CEO of Frankfurter Buchmesse, says, “Anyone who, like Ragıp Zarakolu, campaigns for freedom of expression enables a democratic, pluralistic society and deserves special protection.
“That’s why we expect Sweden and Finland not to turn themselves into stooges and to continue to stand up for the safety and freedom of their exiles.”
Ragıp Zarakolu, as explained in our earlier story, is the co-founding publisher of Belge Publishing House—reportedly fire-bombed in the mid-1990s. He’s a translator and human rights activist, and is, himself, a former member of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish committee. He has published numerous books on minority and human rights and has campaigned for freedom of expression in Turkey for more than 30 years.
Cabanellas: ‘Fundamental Conditions for Any Democracy’
In her award presentation speech on the naming of Zarakolu to the Prix Voltaire in 2008, Anna Maria Cabanellas—then-president of the IPA—said, “Governments should seek to ensure that open debates, in particular about controversial issues such as the latter can actually take place in a non-violent form.
“Freedom of expression and freedom to publish are inextricably linked. They are fundamental conditions for any democracy. These freedoms are prerequisites for an informed exchange of information, views and values among citizens.
“In particular, states should refrain from prosecuting writers and publishers who have expressed non-violent opinions as penal prosecution of these writers and publishers may turn them into potential targets in the eyes of the most nationalistic circles. It is the state’s duty to protect them, not to make targets of them. …
“In giving publisher Ragıp Zarakolu the 2008 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize, we rise to honor the integrity, the steadfastness, and the courage that he so marvelously demonstrates.
“In giving publisher Ragıp Zarakolu the 2008 IPA Freedom to Publish Prize, we rise in deep respect to celebrate his humanity, his passion, his love of different cultures and his quest for truth and reconciliation.”
A note of explanation: What we know now as the IPA Prix Voltaire was originally called the Freedom to Publish Prize. It’s administered by the International Publishers’ Association by the Freedom to Publish committee’s Kristenn Einarsson and the IPAs communications lead, James Taylor.
More from Publishing Perspectives on freedom of expression is here and more on the freedom to publish is here. More on the Prix Voltaire is here, more on international publishing and book awards programs is here, and more from us on the International Publishers Association is here. More on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, and more on the Börsenverein is here.
Publishing Perspectives is the International Publishers Association’s global media partner.
More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.