WASHINGTON—Ragip Zarakolu, a world-renowned Turkish dissident who has been persecuted and imprisoned for his principled stand for recognition and reparations for the Armenian Genocide, will be the featured speaker at this year’s April 9th Capitol Hill remembrance of the 99th anniversary of this crime against all humanity.
This year’s observance, hosted by the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and supported by the Armenian Embassy, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s office in Washington, and Armenian American organizations, will take place in the historic Gold Room of the Rayburn House Office Building — Room 2168 from 6 to 8 pm on the evening of Wednesday, April 9th.
“We welcome Ragip Zarakolu to America and look forward to his remarks on Capitol Hill, at the April 9th Congressional remembrance of the Armenian Genocide,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Mr. Zarakolu represents the small but growing civil society movement within Turkey that – despite persecution, imprisonment, and even threats of assassination – is working to end their own government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and to help build a better future based upon a truthful and just resolution of this still unpunished crime. It is this courageous message of truth and justice — not the official genocide denials of Turkish government — that should be encouraged and empowered by President Obama.
Zarakolu is the longtime director of the Belge Publishing House, which has, since the early 1970s, courageously challenged legal restrictions (including the infamous Article 301 of the Criminal Code) and violent threats against public discourse about the Armenian Genocide, Kurdish issues, minority rights in Turkey, and other banned topics. Several titles published by Belge deal directly with the Armenian Genocide, a principled stand that has resulted in him being targeted by official prosecution, death threats, and even assassination attempts.
He serves as chair of the Freedom to Publish Committee of the Turkish Publishers Association, is a leader member of the Turkish PEN Center. He was awarded the PEN Free Expression Award in 2003 and the IPA Freedom to Publish Prize in 2008.