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After he had finished high school in Balıkesir in 1974 he enrolled at Hacettepe University in Ankara. In 1976 he joined the Kurdish student movement, which has been, in parts, the precursor of the PKK. He has been the first chief editor of the parties' newspaper Serxwebûn. In 1979 he was arrested after accusations of founding and leading a terrorist organisation, taking part at a liberation of a comrade from a state hospital in Diyarbakır and identity document forgery.
On 21 March 1982, the day Kurds celebrate Newroz by lighting up bonfires, Doğan set his own cell at the Diyarbakır Prison on fire and hanged himself in order to protest against the Turkish Government. With this act he tried to awake awareness on the inhumane conditions at Diyarbakır Prison and other jails in Turkey during the 1980 Turkish coup d'état. His suicide was the start of a number of hunger strikes and resistance campaigns run by prisoners of conscience.
Today, Mazlum Doğan is honored in the form of many commemoration days by the Kurdish Movement. The PKK has named its elite school after him and there are several Kurdish youth festivals around Europe sharing his name.
- Serdar Çelik: Die Geschichte des 15. August. Zehn Jahre bewaffneter Befreiungskampf in Nordkurdistan self-publishing company 1995
- Mehdi Zana: Prison No 5: Eleven Years in Turkish Jails published by: Blue Crane Books, Cambridge, MA 1997 ISBN 978-1-886434-05-9
- Mursit Demirkol: Die PKK und die Kurdenfrage in der Türkei: Entstehung, Entwicklung, Lösung (German Edition) published by: Verlag fur Wissenschaft und Bildung, Berlin 1995 ISBN 978-3-86135-057-6