Türkei: Ayse Düzkan

Ayse believes peace is possible only through struggle. She hopes to find a future where women are not oppressed and exploited, and she hopes to find equality, freedom, and justice in that future.

— Ayse Düzkan

Ayse Düzkan, born in 1959, is one of the first feminist activists and writers in Turkey and has been active in various campaigns for women’s rights: in the peace struggle after 1990, as a journalist on war crimes and women’s issues among the Kurds, with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) on the Peace Train from Helsinki to Beijing, and the Peace Tent in the NGO Forum in 1995. She has been in and written about post-war Bosnia and Albania, as well as the Women in Black in Serbia and the Balkans. And she has also been active against the war in Iraq.

Ayse Düzkan has written many articles and stories about war victims and women subjected to sexual violence. One of them, a Kurdish woman who was raped by police officers, on applying to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was admitted immediately. Ayse recalls how this woman came to Diyarbakir from the village she lived in, and how they met secretly in an office, communicating via a Kurdish-Turkish translator. Ayse also interviewed many women who lost sons and relatives in the war, and on a trip to Bosnia in 1998, she was moved by the fact that these stories were so common. In 1995, she met the Women in Black of Serbia and interviewed them, writing about their work all over the world. Ayse’s work on achieving fair and just peace between Turks and Kurds has been important, as she is of Turkish background. For her articles and speeches, she had to appear before the court many times . During one trial, appearing in court with her lawyer (who is also Turkish), the judge commented that despite both of them being of Kurdish background one of them was a writer and the other a lawyer, and that this only showed that there was no oppression against Kurds in Turkey. When Ayse and her lawyer reminded the judge that they were, in fact, not Kurdish, he said, “In that case, what are you both doing here?” Ayse affirms that a woman living in the so-called “Third World” has more risks of being killed in a war than a man living in the so-called “First World,” and that peace is a crucially important women’s issue. As a member of the dominant national group, she believes she has to support any struggle against injustice on a national or ethnic level in Turkey. She considers herself a part of the peace movement in the Middle East.

Women’s Foundation for Culture and Communication Pazartesi (Monday newspaper)