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Prison Memoir of a Kurdish Revolutionary

by Sakine Cansiz

Translated by Janet Biehl

The second instalment of the iconic memoirs of one of the first female fighters of the PKK
The second instalment in a gripping memoir by Sakine Cansiz (codenamed 'Sara') chronicles the Kurdish revolutionary's harrowing years in a Turkish prison, following her arrest in 1979 at the age of 21. Jailed for more than a decade for her activities as a founder and leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, she faced brutal conditions and was subjected to interrogation and torture.

Remarkably, the story she tells here is foremost one of resistance, with courageous episodes of collective struggle behind bars including hunger strikes and attempts at escape. Along the way she also presents vivid portraits of her fellow prisoners and militants, a snapshot of the Turkish left in the 1980s, a scathing indictment of Turkey's war on Kurdish people - and even an unlikely love story.

The first prison memoir by a Kurdish woman to be published in English, this is an extraordinary document of an extraordinary life.

Translated by Janet Biehl.

Sakine Cansiz was a Kurdish revolutionary, who was a leading member of the PKK, present at its first congress of 1978. She was imprisoned between 1980 and 1991 for her membership of the PKK. A close associate of Abdullah Ocalan, she was murdered in Paris in 2013.

Janet Biehl was the collaborator of the late Murray Bookchin. She translated Revolution in Rojava by Knapp et al. and the memoirs of the Kurdish revolutionary, Sakine Cansiz.

'This memoir advances our knowledge of human endurance and allows the reader a closer look into the world of state violence. This is a compelling story of fear, hope, tensions, despair, joy, but mostly a dream of liberation' - Shahrzad Mojab, co-author of 'Revolutionary Learning: Marxism, Feminism and Knowledge' 'Diyarbakir Military Prison was the main site of Kurdish resistance during the early 1980s and as a senior member of the PKK, Sakine Cansiz played a leading role in it. This book is an excellent resource for understanding this historic period in Kurdish politics' - Cengiz Gunes, author of 'The Kurdish National Movement in Turkey: From Protest to Resistance' (Routledge, 2012). 'This second volume of memoirs covers the 11 years Sakine Cansiz spent in Turkish prisons from 1979 until 1990. With tremendous lucidity and power Cansiz tells a story of struggle against dehumanisation and an unshakeable belief in freedom. This is a deeply moving documentation of the origins of the Kurdish women's movement. A most important book - beautifully written and urgent' - Estella Schmid, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign 'Sakine shows not only Kurdish women, but all women that the most beautiful way to live is to embrace life with more strength. Sakine never gave up her love for freedom, despite the heavy sacrifices she had to bear. In a country where it is forbidden to live in freedom as human beings, she knew that the only way to survive was to fight. Every woman who longs for freedom will find a voice in Sakine's struggle' - Gönül Tepe, Kurdish Women's Liberation Movement
Translator-editor's Preface
List of People
List of Political Names and Acronyms
Published by Pluto Press in Aug 2019
Paperback ISBN: 9780745339832
eBook ISBN: 9781786804938

135mm x 215mm