Senal Sarihan

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Senal Sarihan

"Mother, lawyer, feminist, wife, playwright, director, teacher, union organizer, editor, advocate, leader, Senal Sarihan has challenged the status quo her entire life. As a member of the teachers union’s cultural unit, she wrote and directed plays. She joined the Executive Committee of the newly founded Turkish Teachers Association in 1967, where she wrote pro-union articles for their monthly newspaper. Those articles led to her imprisonment in 1971 when the military regime sentenced Sarihan to twenty-two years for her writings. When the newly elected government released her in 1974, Sarihan studied for her law degree and in 1976 began defending intellectuals, union leaders, and human rights defenders. In 1980 she was again arrested and held for thirty-five days for her articles "espousing antistate views." She founded the Contemporary Lawyers Association in 1986 and served as its president, advocating legal reform and the defense of human rights. As the editor of the CLA’s monthly magazine, she has became the most influential critic of Turkey’s antiterrorism law and violations of the rights of free expression. Sarihan is known for her dogged defense of prisoners, women, and children. In the course of her work, fundamentalists and supporters of the status quo alike have threatened her life. In spite of ever-present danger, Sarihan marches on. Forming an alliance of women’s groups called the Contemporary Women’s Association she organized thirty-five thousand women to rally for their rights in 1996, the largest such demonstration in the history of Turkey. The dispossessed are well represented by Senal Sarihan." [1]

Recipient of the 1997 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award

External links

  • "Senal Sarihan", (Biographical note), Undated, Accessed June 2007.