Nurcan Baysal is a Kurdish writer and human rights defender from Diyarbakır, Turkey. She is the author of O Gün (That Day), Kürdistan’da Sivil Toplum (Civil Society in Kurdistan, co-author), Ezidiler: 73. Ferman (Ezidis: 73rd Verdict) and O Sesler (Those Voices) – available in English from 60pages here. She is also a columnist for Ahvalnews.
For many years, she has worked for the rights of the Kurdish population and in rural development. She is one of the founders of the Platform to Save Women Kidnapped by ISIS and Diyarbakir Political and Social Research Institute (DISA). She is a member of the women’s movement and several peace movements in Turkey, as well as an advisor or board member to a number of different non-profit organisations.
In 2017, Nurcan Baysal was awarded the ‘Brave Women Journalists Award’ presented by the Italian Women Journalists Association and she was named Global Laureate for Human Rights Defenders at Risk by our colleagues at Front Line Defenders in 2018.
Nurcan arrived in London in September 2019 to begin her three-month residency with English PEN. Her main focus is on improving her English and she will be taking part in events and meetings in Belfast, Edinburgh and London during her time here. She has also attended numerous events, including the 2019 PEN Pinter Prize and the inaugural Anna Politkovskaya Memorial Lecture where she met one of her heroes, Svetlana Alexievich.
I had many questions about PEN’s residency programme before I arrived in London. It was not an easy decision for me to leave my children. But I was feeling exhausted, empty, and unable to cope with many things. I was sick and tired of living in violence, of being full of bad news, war, death, threats, humiliation…
Here, I am focusing on my English classes and meeting with many organisations which work to support freedom of speech, journalism and human rights. I have also had the chance to meet with many people who want to learn deeply about the Kurdish issue, and hope to find the time to continue working on my new book.
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