She was born in 1946 in a multicultural environment. She had to abandon the Law faculty at the first year and she started attending lessons at the Sociology faculty, but she had to abandon the doctorate when her teacher died.
In 1977 she founded the publishing house "Belge" (Document) and from 1981 to 1988 she is the director of the book distribution house "Cemmay".
In 1986 she took part to the foundation of YHD (Association for the Human Rights) and made inquiries about the problems in the prisons, about torture, about the inexistent respect of the human rights. She was in sympathy with the imprisoned writers and started publishing their books.
In 1982 she was arrested by the military Regime for the publication of a book about the history of the left wing party in Turkey. In 1984 she was arrested by the civil Regime for distributing some books of the opposition. In both cases she was released.
In 1990 and in 1993 she was brought to trial for publishing the first non-authorized books on the Curd question and on the Armenian genocide. For this reason she was imprisoned for five months in 1994 and in 1996 and was deprived of the civil rights.
In 1995 she was condemned to a two-years imprisonment for publishing, in 1993, the book "The Armenian Taboo", by Yves Ternon, but after many campaigns for the freedom of thought, other 33 trials, that wanted her to be imprisoned for 15 years, were closed.
In 1997 she was acquitted from the accusation of having published without authorization the book "The Genocide From The Point Of View Of The National And International Law" by Vahakn Dadrian and for the first time in Turkey the circulation of a book on the Armenian genocide is authorized.
In the collection "Mare Nostrum", she gives room to the literature of Armenian people and of the Greek people of Anatolia and she publishes many books about the rights of the minorities and on the human rights.
She died in 2002 after a long illness. Even though, she had never abandoned her engagement as a publisher.
She received many prizes, among which in 1995, one of the Turkish Union of Publishers; in 1996, from "Human Rights Watch"; in 1997, from the American PEN; in 1998 the "Prize for the Freedom of Thought" of the International Union of Publishers; in 2001 the prize "Padua for the Righteous" of the City of Padua.
Dal 17 aprile 2012 a Ayse Nur Zarakoglu sono dedicati un albero e un cippo al Giardino dei Giusti di tutto il Mondo di Milano.