Ayse Nur Sarisozen
She published books of history, politics and poetry that caused controversies in Turkey. Her publications subjected her to countless court hearings, fines, and imprisonment and, according to her supporters, state-sponsored harassment. Sarisozen, with her husband Ragip Zarakolu, from the basement in Istanbul, and under the publishing house called Belge, set up in 1977, carried on numerous publications. Her publications acknowledging the Kurds' very existence and historical works on the genocide perpetuated in the early years of the 20th century against the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority raised her to the height of controversy in Turkey. 'The place to debate our history is in books, not in the courts,' she said. In early 1990s, her poems of Medhi Zana in Kurdish brought charges of separatist propaganda, against her, under Turkey's anti-terrorism law. In 1997, a collection of articles 'How expensive freedom is', in Turkish, led the Turkish government to ban and confiscate the publications.
Ayse was head of the library at the Institute of Financial Studies at Istanbul University in 1970. In 1980, she became the first woman in Turkey to direct the book distribution Company called Cemmay. Ayse served on the board of the Human Rights Association, founded in 1986. She was recipient of numerous awards, among those of the Turkish Publishers' Association, Human Rights Watch and various branches of the International PEN organisation. Just before her arrest in 1994, she wrote that, 'as long as people cannot express their identities and their views, they are not really free.' She had passion for 'striking down taboos' and 'investigating the rights of minorities.' She was born in Antakya (Antioch) and died in Istanbul.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan