The Turkish publisher of a British writer goes on trial today accused of publishing books “insulting Turkishness”. Ragip Zarakolu is facing up to three years in prison for publishing a book that promotes reconciliation between Turks and Armenians - by George Jerjian, a writer living in London. The Truth Will Set Us Free was translated into Turkish in 2005. It chronicles the life of Jenjian’s grandmother who survived the early 20th century massacres of Armenians thanks to an Ottoman soldier.
Zarakolu is being tried under Turkey's 301 article of law, the same legislation that was used against Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk in 2005. However, senior officials in Turkey's current administration have promised to rescind the notorious piece of legislation. Yesterday the Turkish justice minister, Mehmet Ali said that "freely expressed views that neither promote terrorism nor violence should be protected".
While Turkish diplomats admit that the law has probably done more damage to Ankara's efforts to join the EU than any other single piece of legislation, there has been little headway made over reforming the spirit and letter of the law. State prosecutors and police officials continue to level charges against artists, musicians and writers perceived to publicly denigrate However, the unveiling of a new constitution later this month will be a significant turning point in the campaign to overturn the law.