*** Speakers' & Patrons' Profiles ***

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Turkey, the Kurds and the Imrali Peace Process: An Historic Opportunity

Brussels, European Parliament, 4th & 5th of December 2013

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She's a Member of the European Parliament since 2004 in the GUE/NGL political group. Between 2000 and 2003 she was president of the German left party PDS (which merge into DIE LINKE in 2007). Before that she was president of "PDS Thüringen" from 1990 until 1998 and, at the same time, a Member of the Regional Parliament of Thuringia until 2004. As a full member of the EP's Development committee and a substitute member of the Employment and Social Affairs committee, her main political objectives are the fight against hunger, poverty, and social exclusion both within and outside the EU. As the European Parliament's rapporteur on food security challenges in developing countries, her recent parliamentary work was in particular dedicated to achieving food and nutrition security. Ms Zimmer works for social fundamental rights and standards such as a minimum income, a minimum wage, the right to decent housing and energy provision including promotion of human rights and fundamental democratic values in the world including Middle-East and the Kurds.


Chair of the "European Union - Turkey Civic Commission" (EUTCC), Kariane Westrheim is Associate Professor at the Department of Education, University of Bergen, Norway. She holds an MA and PhD in Education from the University of Bergen. She has long experience as a teacher on all levels, and has also served as a school counsellor and advisor for the municipal pedagogical-psychological department for many years. Ms Westrheim is member of the Rafto Foundation, a Norwegian human rights organisation which awarded Leyla Zana the Rafto Prize in 1994. Since then she has been actively engaged in the Kurdish question, also academically. Her latest research project (2009) at UoB is Education in a Political Context. A study of knowledge processes and learning sites in the PKK focuses on educational practices within the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Westrheim has also written scientific articles linked to the Kurdish question. Kariane Westrheim is Chair of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC) that was formally established in 2004 following the 1st International Conference EU Turkey and the Kurds in the EP, Brussels.


Member of the European Parliament, Member of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, Coordinator of the EP-Kurds Friendship Group, GUE/NGL Group, Germany. Jürgen Klute is a member of the Federal Party of the Left. Since June 2009 he has been a member of the European Parliament and member and coordinator of the European Left GUE/NGL Group in the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and alternate member of the Budget Committee. In the North Rhine-Westphalia state election in 2005 he was a leading candidate of the WASG. Between 1974 and 1981, Mr Klute studied theology in Bielefeld and Marburg. From 1984 to 1986 Mr. Kluge worked for the vocational school in Bad Berleburg. At the end of April 2006 he was elected to the Federal Executive of the enlarged WASG, a position he held until its dissolution on 15 June 2007. He joined the party Die Linke, and was elected to its founding congress in the federal executive. Jurgen Klute has published a series of books on social ethics, the relation of religion to the social culture and current social and labor policy issues.

Me Antoine COMTE

Antoine Comte is an important lawyer based in Paris. Former member of la league international des droits de l’homme. He is also specialized in defending human rights activists. He also followed politically motivated cases including about Kurds, most recently he is representing the families of the three Kurdish women politicians killed in Paris.


Graduate in Chemistry (1980); Doctor of Chemistry (1986). Assistant lecturer at the Chemistry Faculty of the University of the Basque Country (1980-1986). Editor of the Journal Elhuyar Zientziz Eta Teknikia for the Elhuyar Foundation (1987-1990). Editor of the Elhuyar Encyclopaedic Dictionary (1990-1993). Member of the Department of Lexicography of the Elhuyar Foundation (1994-1995). Executive Director of the Elhuyar Foundation (1996-2003). Director of the IMH School of Engineering (2005-2006). Director of Eleka Ingeniaritza Linguistikoa SL (2006-2011). Vice-Coordinator General of Aralar (2003-2004). Member of Tolosa (Gipuzkoa) Municipal Council (since 2011). Correspondent member of the Royal Academy of the Basque Language (since 2003).


Member of Turkish Parliament, Co-Chair of BDP Party, Turkey. Co-Chair of BDP; MP for Siirt. Born June 15th, 1961, Elâzığ. Kurdish politician of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Bachelor, Ege University, Faculty of Communication and Public Relations; Department of Journalism, İzmir, she worked as a journalist for various newspapers and has been Project Consultant in Diyarbakir and Municipal Coordinator for many different projects under the different themes like Women and Human Rights. Married and has one child.

Emma Sinclair-WEBB

Senior Researcher. Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher with the Europe and Central Asia division, joined Human Rights Watch in 2007. She has worked on issues including police violence, accountability for enforced disappearances and killings by state perpetrators, the misuse of terrorism laws, and arbitrary detention. She was researcher on Turkey for Amnesty International from 2003-2007, and previously worked in publishing as a commissioning editor on books on history, culture, and politics in the Middle East and southeast Europe. She has degrees from Cambridge University and Birkbeck College, London, and speaks Turkish.

Hüseyin YAYMAN

He was graduated from Istanbul University, Public Administration department. He holds a master degree from Hacettepe University Political Science and Public Administration. He completed his Ph. D. at Ankara University Faculty of Political science with the thesis titled Turkey’s Administrative Reform Policy (“Türkiye’nin İdari Reform Politiği”) Known well with his studies on the Kurdish Issue Mr. Yayman, works for Gazi University Faculty of Economic and Administrative sciences. He was a member of the Wise People Commission which was established on April 3rd 2013 for the purpose of explaining ongoing peace process to the public.


Dogu Ergil has received his BA degree in Psychology and Sociology at Ankara University to be followed by an MA degree at Oklahoma University in Sociology (Social Psychology minor) and a Ph D in Development Studies, an interdisciplinary program composed of Political Science, Political Economy and Sociology, at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He returned to Turkey to teach first at the Middle East Technical University and later at the Ankara University. He became a full professor and the chair person of the Department of Political Behavior at the Faculty of Political Science of the latter University. Dr. Ergil wrote twenty two books, many of which in Turkish. He has contributed many book chapters and articles in many countries and prestigious international journals. He has been awarded with British Council Fellowship that enabled him to be a visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, the Fulbright Fellowship that gave him the chance of being a visiting scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies (Washington DC). Additionally he was awarded with research fellowships by the Winston Foundation for World Peace and later twice (1999-2000 and 2005-2006) by the National Endowment for Democracy (Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowship). The New School for Social Research University in New York has also honored him with the renowned “University in Exile” democracy and human rights award in 2000. Member of the Wise People Commission which was established on April 3rd 2013 for the purpose of explaining ongoing peace process to the public.


Hasan Cemal, a Turkish journalist, writer and grandson of Djemal Pasha, born in 1944 in Istanbul. In 1965, Cemal graduated from Ankara University with a Political Science Degree. He was the editor of Cumhuriyet from 1981 to 1992, and of Sabah from 1992 to 1998. In 2013 he resigned from the Milliyet newspaper after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had criticised his article supporting Milliyets publication of minutes of a parliamentary visit to Öcalan, and Milliyet suspended him and refused to publish his returning column. Cemal began working for the weekly Hakkı Devrim in 1969 and soon thereafter, he became an Ankara representative of the Cumhuriyet newspaper. Between the years 1981 and 1992, he was the chief editor of the Cumhuriyet newspaper. He resigned in January 1992 in a dispute over editorial policy: "I tried to widen the spectrum, to keep the balance. But they (old-guard intellectuals) always resisted, calling us plotters, tools of big business and the United States". He became the editor of the Sabah newspaper in May 1992, remaining in the position until 1998. From 1998 he worked for Milliyet. During the heightened tensions between the PKK and the Turkish government, Hasan Cemal would be noted for conducting interviews with notable PKK leaders such as Abdullah Öcalan and Murat Karayilan. In 2013 the Milliyet newspaper he wrote for suspended him for two weeks after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had criticised his article supporting Milliyets publication of minutes of a parliamentary visit to Öcalan. When Milliyet then refused to publish his returning column, he resigned. He is best known for acknowledging and apologizing for the Armenian Genocide, a crime which was perpetrated by Djemal Pasha. His 2012 book on the subject (written in response to the 2007 assassination of his friend Hrant Dink) is titled 1915: Ermeni Soykırımı (English: 1915: Armenian Genocide).

MEP Soren Bo Sondergaard

Teacher, metalworker and former member of the Danish Parliament. He is a Member of the European Parliament and of the Bureau of the Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left. Mr Sondergaard has formerly been a member of the Executive Committee for conscripted private soldiers (1977-1978); Secretary of the Socialist Workers Party (1983-1988); Member of the Danish Parliament (1994-2005); Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (1998-2005); Member of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (1995-2005); and Member of the Gladsaxe Town Council for the Red-Green Alliance (2006-2007).

MP Ertuğrul KÜRKÇÜ

Member of Turkish Parliament, Spokesperson of Democratic People’s Congress. Born in Bursa in 1948, MP for Mersin; well-known socialist Intellectual, Writer, Publisher. He was the chair of Federation of Revolutionary Youth Associations (DEV-GENC) in 1970s. He had been sentenced the death punishment in 1972, the sentence turned out 30 years prison punishment with the Amnesty Law in 1974. Wrote columns for “Ozgur Gundem” and “Evrensel” daily newspapers and “Demokrat” Magazine. Co-ordinated The Independent News Network (BIA-NET) Project. Edited and Published and translated various books.

Yonnec POLET

Yonnec Polet is a Belgian national with a BA in International Studies and Political Science from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. After working on a social economy project for the reinsertion of unemployed people in Brussels and another year in a Telecommunications SME, Yonnec started working for the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. He was elected twice (1999-2001 and 2001-2003) as Secretary General of ECOSY, the youth organization of the PES. In 2003, he started working as Parliamentary Assistant for Harlem Désir, French Member of the European Parliament and took part to his campaign for the European elections in 2004. In September 2004, he joined the PES as Adviser for International relations and Globalization and was then appointed Head of the International Unit and GPF Coordinator. In September 2012 he was nominated PES 1st Deputy Secretary General. Member of the PS since 1994, Yonnec is member of the National Bureau and President of the local branch in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe where he has been elected Local Councilor in October 2012. He was also very much involved in NGO work in Belgium. He was President of the CNAPD (Coordination National d’Action pour la Paix et la Démocratie), the largest peace and citizens’ rights platform in Belgium, 2004-2008 and was President of Reso-j, the platform of youth organizations of the PS, 2008-2011.


Mark Demesmaeker born 12 September 1958 in Halle, Flemish Brabant) is a Belgian politician affiliated to the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA). He was elected as a member of the Flemish Parliament in 2004 and reelected in 2009. In 2013, Demesmaeker left the Flemish Parliament to replace Frieda Brepoels (who became mayor of Bilzen) as member of the European Parliament. In 2006, he was elected to the City Council of Halle and became alderman. In 2012, he was reelected with the most preference votes, but a coalition was formed without his party. Previously he had been a teacher as well as a television presenter for VRT and vtm.


Project Director, International Crisis Group Senior analyst with the International Crisis Group. Hugh Pope conducts research in Turkey and Cyprus, writing policy-focused reports on Turkish policy, Turkey's immediate region and the factors that mitigate or increase the risk of armed conflict. Pope‘s areas of expertise includes Turkey‘s membership negotiations with the EU, Turkish domestic politics, economics, Turkish Islam and the situation of the Kurds.


David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding at American University in Washington, DC. He is also a research scholar at Columbia’s Center for Study of Human Rights and adjunct associate professor at NYU’s Graduate School of Politics. Phillips has worked as a senior adviser to the United Nations Secretariat and as a foreign affairs expert and senior adviser to the U.S. Department of State. He has held positions as a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies, executive director of Columbia University’s International Conflict Resolution Program, and as a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna. He has also been a senior fellow and deputy director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action, director of the European Centre for Common Ground, project director at the International Peace Research Institute of Oslo, president of the Congressional Human Rights Foundation. Mr. Phillips is author of From Bullets to Ballots: Violent Muslim Movements in Transition (Transaction Press, 2008), Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco (Perseus Books, 2005), Unsilencing the Past: Track Two Diplomacy and Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation (Berghahn Books, 2005), which recounts his work as chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission. He has also authored many policy reports, as well as more than 100 articles in leading publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, and Foreign Affairs.


Günter Seufert is a Senior Researcher with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, where he focuses on political developments in Turkey and the Cyprus conflict. For several years he was based in Istanbul working as a correspondent for German, Swiss and Austrian newspapers (2001-2004 and 2007-2010). He also taught as Visiting Associate Professor in the Department for Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cyprus in Nicosia (2004-2007). Prior to this he was Researcher and Managing Director of the Istanbul branch of the Beirut based Institute of the German Oriental Society (1996-2001). In 1996, Seufert, who holds a PhD in Sociology, was a post-doc researcher at the University of Lausanne. –


He is a Kurdish journalist born in Van in 1960. He worked as a journalist for daily Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet, Gündem ve Özgür Politika. He worked as the chief editor of weekly “Yeni Ulke”. Beetween 1991-1993 he worked as a freelance journalist. During this time, he covered the Kurdish issue in various Kurdish media outlets. He was arrested in 1993 because of his book titled “33 Kursun” (33 Bullets). After two years in prison he was released in 1995. The same year he left Turkey because of the court cases against him. From 1995 – 1999 he worked as news editor and moderator in the Kurdish satellite channel “Med TV”.

Michael GUNTER

Professor of Political Science, Tennessee Technological University, Secretary General of EUTCC, United States of America. Gunter earned his B.A. in American history in 1964 from Columbia University. He went on to receive his M.I.A. from Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs in 1966. In 1972, he received his doctorate in international relations from Kent State. He is the author of seven critically praised academic books on the Kurdish question, the most recent being The Kurds Ascending, 2007; Historical Dictionary of the Kurds, 2004; The Kurdish Predicament in Iraq: A Political Analysis, 1999; and The Kurds and the Future of Turkey, 1997. In addition, he is the co-editor (with Mohammed M. A. Ahmed) of The Kurdish Question and the 2003 Iraqi War, 2005; and The Evolution of Kurdish Nationalism, 2007. He has published numerous scholarly articles on the Kurds in such leading periodicals as the Middle East Journal, Middle East Quarterly, Middle East Policy, Current History, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, and Orient, among others, and was a former Senior Fulbright Lecturer in International Relations in Turkey and Israel. He has been interviewed about the Kurdish question on numerous occasions by the international and national press. Michael M. Gunter serves as the EUTCC Secretary General.

Jonathan SPYER

Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst, author and journalist specializing in the areas of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and broader issues of regional strategy. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Mr. Joost Jongerden - is a rural sociologist by training and obtained his PhD in social sciences in 2006. He is now working as Assistant Professor at the Sociology and Anthropology of Development section of Wageningen University, the Netherlands. He has a research interest in socio-spatial and political analysis, with a strong focus onrural development and the creative construction of autonomy through or embedded in acts of refusal and resistance, from peasant struggles to insurgencies. He teaches several courses in sociological theory and socio-spatial analysis and has been involved in the organization of international seminars and conferences. Key-publications are Joost Jongerden and Jelle Verheij (eds). 2012. Social Relations in Ottoman Diyarbekir, 1870-1915, Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers; Zeynep Gambetti and Joost Jongerden. 2011. The spatial (re)production of the Kurdish issue: Multiple and contradicting trajectories. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 13(4) pp. 375-388 Marlies Casier and Joost Jongerden (Eds.). 2011. Nationalisms and Politics in Turkey, Political Islam, Kemalism and the Kurdish Issue. New York: Routledge, and Joost Jongerden,. 2007. The Settlement Issue in Turkey and the Kurds, an analysis of spatial policies, modernity and war. Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers


Hikmat Muhamad Karim known as Mula Bakhtiyar was born on August 20, 1954 in the oil-rich town of Khanaqeen which lies in southern east of Iraqi Kurdistan. He joined the Marx-Lenin association in 10/6/ 1970, a few months after its foundation. He joined Aylul Revolution in 1974. While he was in the revolution, he experienced too many difficulties due to his leftist views. After the announcement of establishing Patriotic Union of Kurdistan on June 1st , 1975, PUK witnessed a popular flourishing and established a wide organization among all Kurdish constituents. In the mid 1976, the PUK started to form Peshmarga forces according to a plan to re-launch armed struggle across the Kurdistan region. This struggle was initially based on a hit-and-run approach, a tactic that later became widespread and Hikmat Karim was assigned to play a vital role in re-organizing the armed groups by coordinating between the cities and the Peshmarga, eventually he joined the armed struggle. Now he is Chief of Executive Body of Political Bureau, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Amberin ZAMAN

Columnist of the weekly The Economist and the Turkish daily Haberturk. Westminster Debate ‘Turkish Foreign Policy: Syria and its Kurds’. Amberin Zaman is Istanbul-based Turkey correspondent of the UK weekly The Economist. Zaman, who is Turkish, also writes a column twice a week for the mass circulation Turkish daily Haberturk. Educated in New York and Switzerland, Zaman has covered Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Armenia for a wide array of international titles including The Daily Telegraph of London, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Her fields of interest are minority rights, the Kurds, and Turkish Armenian reconciliation.

Zübeyir AYDAR

Lawyer. He was born in Siirtrt in 1961. Graduated from Istanbul university law faculty. He was the chair of the Siirt branch of the Human Rights Association (IHD) and vice president of the IHD. He was a member of the People’s Labour Party (HEP) Central executive board and was elected to the parliament for Siirt in 1991. In 1994, after the removal of the parliamentary immunity and the imprisonment of the other MPs, came to Europe. He took his place in establishment of the Kurdistan Parliament in Exile and became the head of the executive committee. He took his place in the establishment of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) in 1999 and became a member of the presidency. He took his place in establishment of the Kurdistan People’s Congress and was elected as the president. He is still a member of the KNK Executive Board.


Mr. Salih Muslim Muhammad is the leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the most powerful member of the Kurdish opposition in the Syrian civil war. He is also the deputy co-President of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change. Muhammad first became involved with the Kurdish movement during the 1970s when he was studying engineering at Istabul Technical University after becoming influenced by Mustafa Barzani's ongoing fight against the Iraqi government, the failure of which spurred him into becoming more active. Following University he worked as an engineer in Saudi Arabia before returning to Syria in the 90's. He joined the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria in 1998. He later left in 2003 after becoming disillusionment by the party's failure to accomplish its objectives and joined the newly formed Democratic Union Party, or PYD, becoming a member of its executive council, and was elected as party head in 2010.

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EUTCC Patrons

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond TUTU

Desmond Tutu was a teacher in Johannesburg until 1957, when he took up the study of theology. In 1961 he was ordained as an Anglican priest and studied for BA and MA degrees in Theology at King‘s College, London. Back in South Africa, from 1967 to 1972 he drew attention to the situation of the black population, and in 1975 he was appointed dean of St. Mary‘s Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black person to hold that position. From 1976, at the time of the pupil and student rebellions in Soweto, Tutu supported an economic boycott of his country. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 Secretary General of the South African Council of Churches. Desmond Tutu worked tirelessly against apartheid, preaching reconciliation between both sides, and in 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as a unifying figure in the campaign to resolve the problem of apartheid. In 1986 Tutu became the first black person to lead the Anglican Church in South Africa, and after the fall of apartheid he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In 1999 he was awarded the Sidney Peace Prize for his work as Chairman of South Africa‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Shirin EBADI

Shirin Ebadi was born in the city of Hamedan, north-western Iran, in 1947. She has lived in Tehran since her childhood. She received a law degree at the Faculty of Law of the Tehran University in 1968. She began to serve officially as a judge in 1969: she was the first woman in the history of Iranian justice to have served as a judge. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, since the belief was that Islam forbade women to serve as judges, she was dismissed from the post. All former female judges were moved to the position of "experts" in the Justice Department. Not tolerating this, she requested early retirement, but she only succeeded in obtaining a lawyer's licence in 1992. Among many cases she accepted to represent the families of serial murder victims; she also took on a large number of social cases concerning child abuse. She also taught human rights training courses at the Tehran University. In 1995 she co-founded the Association for Support of Children‘s Rights. In 1993 her book History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran was published; her further books deal in particular with law pertaining to children and women. She has delivered lectures to university and academic conferences and seminars on human rights in Iran, Europe and America. She received, among others, the Rafto Human Rights Foundation Prize in 2001 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, for her human rights activities.


Bianca Jagger is known worldwide as an ardent worker for human rights; on December 12th 2003, she was nominated as Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador for the Fight 10 against the Death Penalty. Walter Schwimmer, the Secretary General of the COE, said while advocating the appointment, ―The right to life as the foremost human right is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, which constitutes the backbone of the Council of Europe. Ms Jagger is a firm defender of this principle and deeply opposed to the death penalty. Her impressive struggle for the fundamental idea that a civilised state must not kill, was the determining factor in proposing Ms Jagger for the position of a Council of Europe Goodwill Ambassador‖. Through moratoria on executions, Europe is a de facto death-penalty-free area; she works to eradicate capital punishment from the penal systems of all civilised democratic societies. Ms Jagger is Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, UK, and, finally, she is member of the International Board of Patrons of the Kurdish Human Rights Project.


Noam Chomsky was born on December 7, 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His undergraduate and graduate years were spent at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his PhD in linguistics in 1955. During the years 1951 to 1955, Chomsky was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows. He is regarded as one of the founders of modern linguistics. Professor Chomsky has received honorary degrees from several renowned universities around the world. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Science. In addition, he is a member of other professional and learned societies in the United States and abroad, and is a recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, the Dorothy Eldridge Peacemaker Award, the Ben Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science, and others. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a key political critic. Chomsky is regarded as a notable figure in contemporary philosophy. Noam Chomsky has written several books and articles which have received international attention. His works have encouraged important debates on key political issues.


Yasar Kemal was born in 1923 in the village of Hemite belonging to the city of Osmaniye. After being forced to leave school towards the end of his secondary education he worked as a labourer, water boy on a rice field and other jobs including a librarian. His first poems were published in magazines such as Ulke, Kovan, Millet and Bespinar. He moved to Istanbul in the year of 1951. He started to write jokes and interviews for Cumhuriyet newspaper. His first novel, Ince Memed, was published in 1955. Between the years 1955 to 1984 he 33 published books consisting of novels, folk tales, interviews and other compositions. He is seen worthy of the globally renowned Del Duca award in 1982 and received a diploma from France‘s Legion D‘Honneur. Over the past 30 years he has become a writer of international standing. His works have been translated into several languages.


Leyla Zana is a Kurdish politician. She was the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish Parliament in 1991. She was imprisoned for speaking Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament after taking her parliamentary oath and for her political actions which were considered against the unity of Turkey. In December 1994, along with three other Democracy Party MPs (Hatip Dicle, Selim Sadak and Orhan Dogan), she was arrested and charged with treason and membership of the PKK. The treason charges were not put before the court, and Zana denied PKK affiliation; but with the prosecution relying on witness statements allegedly obtained under torture, Zana and the others were sentenced to 15 years in prison. She was recognized as a "Prisoner of Conscience" by Amnesty International; awarded the Rafto Prize in 1994; the Sakharov Prize by the European parliament in 1995; and the Bruno Kreisky Award. Her sentence was extended in 1998 because she had written a letter that was published in a Kurdish newspaper, which allegedly expressed pro-separatist views. While in prison she published Writings from Prison. She was released in 2004. Zana is currently active in human rights issues and politics in Turkey.

Vedat Turkali

Vedat Turkali was born in Samsun, Turkey in 1919. He has written over 40 screenplays, directed three films, and won many national and international awards for his plays, screenplays and novels. After graduating from Istanbul University, Department of Turkology, he served as a literature teacher at Maltepe and Kuleli Military High Schools. He was arrested in 1951 and accused of conducting political activities. He was sentenced to nine years in prison by the military court and was paroled seven years later. Turkali embarked on a cinematic career in 1958 following his release from the prison. His novel Alone Someday (Bir Gün Tek Basina) was seen as landmark for contemporary Turkish literature because of its story-line and narration technique. This book was followed by another novel, Blue Darkness (Mavi Karanlik). Vedat Türkali won the TRT‘s play award in 1970 with his play Branches must be Green (Dallar YeĢil Olmalı). He wrote his first screenplay The Shah of Cheaters (Dolandırıcılar ġahı) in 1960. He wrote other screenplays such as Bus Passengers (Otobüs Yolcuları), Bike with Three Wheels (Üç Tekerlekli Bisiklet), The Stranger in the City (ġehirdeki Yabancı), Those Waking up in the Dark (Karanlıkta Uyananlar), Bedrana, and The Bride with Dark Chador (Kara ÇarĢaflı Gelin). Some of his screenplays that he himself filmed, can be listed as There was Blood on the Street (Sokakta Kan Vardı), Fearless Lovers (Korkusuz ÂĢıklar) and Kopuk. Those Waking up in the Dark (1965) and The Bride with Dark Chador (1977) were awarded the prize of Best Screenplay at the Antalya Film Festival. The films Bedrana and Sunny Marsh (GüneĢli Bataklık) which were shot from his screenplays also were awarded the Labor Union Award and the Award of Cidale at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Vedat Türkali has pubished many other very important books too numerous to mention in this short CV.