Writer in Residence Programme 2008
Publisher Ragip Zarakolu in Amsterdam Residency
1-30 September 2008
Occasionally the Amsterdam Residency programme hosts other professionals from within the world of literature than writers. We are proud to say that such was the case from the 16th until the 23rd of September 2008, as our apartment was the temporary home for the Turkish publisher Ragip Zarakolu, this years IPA Freedom to Publish Prize winner.
He received this Prize during a ceremony at the famous historic Amsterdam landmark, the Portuguese synagogue, marking the opening of a 2-day international seminar on neo-censorship (Threats to the Open Book) organised by Amsterdam World Book Capital. As his wife received the Freedom to Publish Prize in 1998 this year it was Ragips Zarakolu’s turn.
Ragip Zarakolu was born on the island Büyükada near Istanbul and has always maintained close relationships with Greeks and Armenians in Turkey. Since he and his wife established Belge Publishing House in 1977, they have put Turkish censorship laws to the test by translating and publishing controversial books from Armenian and Greek authors into the Turkish language. For this Zarakolu was sentenced to imprisonment several times.
Until the military coup of September 12, 1980 Belge Publishing House mostly published academic and theoretical books. Afterwards Belge started to publish a series of books written by political prisoners. The series of 35 books consists of poems, shorts stories and novels.
Zarakolu has been involved in several other activities. He was the founder of Demokrat, a newspaper which was banned after the military coup in 1980, he was one of the 98 founders of the Human Rights Association in Turkey, for some time he chaired the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN in Turkey and currently (beginning of 2007) he chairs the Committee for Freedom of Publication in the Union of Publishers. Boekblad Magazine (the Dutch magazine for publishers; #21, oktober 2008) interviewed Zarakolu during his stay in Amsterdam.