ISTANBUL — Turkish police raided on May 7 the Belge Publishing House in Istanbul, founded by Turkish human rights activist Ragip Zarakolu and his wife Ayse Nur Zarakolu, seizing 2,000 books, daily Cumhuriyet has reported.
Belge was raided due to alleged links to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) in the Fatih district’s Cagaloglu neighborhood, according to Cumhuriyet. Police searched the publishing house after receiving a complaint that some books did not have a banderole, it said.
Police reportedly said they had an order to seize the books “Stateless Kurds” and “Decisions Tougher than Death” off the shelf. Officers additionally seized hundreds of more books from the 1980s and 1990s despite the lack of any order to do so, the newspaper said.
After seizing the books, police also briefly detained Mehmet Ali Varis, an employee of the publishing house and released him later.
The publishing house was founded by Ragip and Ayse Zarakolu in 1977 and published books mostly about politics, economics, philosophy and human rights. Belge is also known for publishing several dozens of books on the Armenian Genocide and the Armenian Cause.
Ayse Nur Zarakolu received the International Publishers Association (IPA) Freedom of Thought prize in 1998, while Ragip Zarakolu received the IPA Freedom to Publish Award in 2008.
Ragip Zarakolu was arrested in 2011 as part of an operation on Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella organization of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), before being released in April 2012.
Ragip Zarakolu has visited Armenia and Diaspora communities on numerous occasions, condemned the Armenian Genocide and urged the Turkish government to face the reality.
Zarakolu is currently residing in Europe.