About Nurcan Baysal
Nurcan Baysal is a Kurdish activist and writer.
She was born and grew up in Diyarbakır. She graduated from Ankara University Faculty of Political Science. After 1 year assistantship at Bilkent University, she returned her homeland Diyarbakır and began to work for humanitarian issues in the Kurdish Region. Between 1997-2007, Baysal worked as the project coordinator for United Nations Development Program in Diyarbakir. During that time she was active in poverty and development issues as well as in microfinance and women’s entrepreneurship. She was engaged in the establishment of a number of NGOs in the Region. She was part of the Kurdish women’s movement and a big supporter of women NGOs in Kurdistan. In 2000 she established the Development Center Association and worked for the rights of the forced migrated Kurdish population, evacuated villages, the rights of returnees and rural development.
In 2008, she began working for the Ozyegin Foundation and developed a rural development program in 6 war-torn villages of Tatvan, Kavar. The program made a significant impact on the living standards of over 2,000 people through projects working on education, employment, health and social life. As a result, Baysal was selected as one of “Turkey’s Changemakers” by the Sabancı Foundation in 2012.
Her work in development has had an international impact. In 2000
Baysal was awarded the “Women’s Creativity in Rural Life Award” by the Women’s World Summit Foundation in Switzerland for her work in the Kavar Basin and for her contribution to development literature by linking development with happiness. As she said in an interview “happiness is part of development”.
In 2012, with a group of Kurdish and Turkish intellectuals, activists and academics, she established the Diyarbakir Political and Social Research Institute (DISA). DISA has conducted research on different aspects of the Kurdish question including education in mother tongue, reconciliation, paramilitary forces, disarmament and more. Baysal serves as an advisor or board member to many non-profit organizations, like the Global Fund for Women, the Women Labor and Employment Platform, the Urgent Action Fund, the Mezopotamya Foundation, the Platform to Save Women Kidnapped by ISIS. She is a member of the women’s movement and several peace movements in Turkey.
After ISIS attacked Şengal in August 2014, Baysal immediately began to work voluntarily in the Yezidi camps in Iraqi and Turkish Kurdistan. She increased the voice of Yezidi people with her articles and with a group of brave women, she established the Platform to Save Women Kidnapped by ISIS in 2015. The platform continues to give different legal and health support to Yezidi women saved from ISIS and tries to increase the voice of Yezidi women in the world.
Since 2013, Baysal has been writing as a regular columnist. Her articles have been published in various countries. She is member of PEN Turkey.
Nurcan Baysal is the author of O Gün (That Day), Ezidiler: 73. Ferman (Ezidis: 73rd Decree) and co-author of Kürdistan’da Sivil Toplum (Civil Society in Kurdistan). She has recently been writing on people’s voices and stories who have been displaced in demolished cities of Kurdistan. She is one of the very few reporting from inside the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, from the proud and ancient heart of Kurds living in Turkey – the city of Diyarbakir. She focuses on human rights and war crimes in her articles.
Her new long-form “Those Voices” has just been published by 60pages Publishing in Berlin. In “Those Voices”, she wrote about her city that was under bombardment. How the city itself experienced the bombardment, how daily life continued under the bombardment as well as how different sections of society experienced the bombardment.
Nurcan Baysal, mother of 2 sons, has just been awarded the “Brave Women Journalists Award” presented by the Italian Women Journalists Association. There are many court cases against her because of her articles about human rights and war crimes in Kurdistan. She has been systematically threatened by nationalists and the deep state in Turkey because of her articles. This doesn’t stop her. As she said in her interview:
“We are in the middle of a long struggle for democracy, freedom and justice. I write to record the history not written by the powerful, but to remember those who struggle for equality, freedom and justice.
History books continue to be written by executioners. But truth needs to find a place in history. I feel it is my responsibility to record truth for the future.”