Turkey confiscates assets of Ragip Zarakolu in "KCK trial"

Turkey has confiscated part of the assets of the publisher Ragip Zarakolu. The 71-year-old, who lives in exile in Sweden, is accused of having supported the PKK by speaking at the DBP education academy.

Hearing in the so-called KCK trial, in which 205 people stand trial, was held at on Tuesday at the 3rd Heavy Penal Court of Istanbul. Some of the defendants and their lawyers were present in the hearing.

In connection with the KCK trial, the court ruled to confiscate part of the assets of the publisher and author Ragip Zarakolu. The autocratically ruled country wants to use the confiscation to force the return of Zarakolu, who has been living in exile in Sweden since 2013. The 71-year-old's pension benefits have also been confiscated.

Ragip Zarakolu is one of the founders of the Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD, İnsan Hakları Derneği). In his publishing house Belge (Turkish: document) he has published books since 1977 that shake Turkish taboos, especially works about Kurds and Armenians. At the end of October 2011, Zarakolu was arrested in the course of investigations against the alleged "Turkey Council of the KCK" and later arrested. Due to a speech he had given at the Academy of Education of the Party of Democratic Regions DBP, Zarakolu was accused of "membership in a terrorist organization". After almost seven months in custody, he was released. In 2013 Zarakolu left the country and has been living in Swedish asylum ever since. Meanwhile, the trial continues.

The wave of arrests in the so-called "KCK operation" started only one day after the KCK (Union of Kurdistan Communities) extended its ceasefire until July 1 on April 13, 2009 and stated in its declaration that "for the first time there is a possibility to solve the Kurdish question in a ceasefire environment". The operation, which began with the arrest of politicians and NGO representatives, has had a wave-like impact on all areas of social life, including mayors, trade unionists, journalists (KCK press trial), human rights activists and lawyers.

In the so-called KCK main trial, a total of 83 Kurdish politicians were held in pre-trial detention for more than 18 months before they were brought to court for the first time. During this time, the lawyers were unable to appeal against the detention for 15 months due to a confidentiality order regarding the investigation files. In March 2017, 99 defendants were sentenced to a total of 1,109 years imprisonment, and in dozens of cases, their imprisonment was confirmed by a higher court.