A Turkish court on Monday, December 21, sentenced former Kurdish parliamentarian, Leyla Güven, to over 22 years in jail for her alleged links with a “terrorist group” and for disseminating “terrorist propaganda.”Leyla Güven, a member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, (HDP) was stripped of her parliamentary seat and immunity along with two other parliamentarians in June this year.
Güven was sentenced to 14 years and three months in jail for her alleged membership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and eight years for disseminating “terrorist propaganda”. Güven was elected from Hakkari in the eastern Kurdish dominated region of Turkey in the 2018 parliamentary elections.
Güven was also the co-chair of Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a pro-Kurdish group founded in 2007 which advocates confederation in Turkey.
She was not present in the court in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir when the sentence was pronounced. She is tried on 18 different charges and may be sentenced further on other counts in the future. The court also issued an arrest warrant against her.
She was detained and sent to Diyarbakir women’s prison, according to a tweet by her daughter Sabiha Temizkan.
Annem Leyla Güven adliyedeki işlemlerinin ardından Diyarbakır Kadın Cezaevi’ne götürüldü. Dayanışmanız için hepinize çok teşekkür ediyorum. Dilerim düşüncelerinden dolayı hapsedilen binlerce kişiyi kurtarabiliriz. Bugün değilse yarın ama mutlaka! pic.twitter.com/3139vCf9kg
— sabiha temizkan (@sabihatemizkan) December 22, 2020
Reacting to Güven’s sentencing, HDP central executive board issued a statement saying that the judgement once again shows that the judiciary in the country “act[s] in line with the interests of the government” and that the judgment against Leyla Güven is judgment against Kurdish people and all opposition parties.
“Leyla Güven is a person of struggle who devoted her life to peace; she is a monument of honor (sic). Neither Leyla Güven nor we will give up the struggle due to prison sentences and arrests,” HDP’s statement reads.
Güven, along with scores of other activists in Turkey, had sat on a hunger strike in November 2018 in an attempt to force the Turkish government to end the isolation of Abdullah Ocalan imprisoned in a Turkish jail since 1999. At that time, she was in jail for terming the Turkish forces’ operation in Syria an “invasion.” She was released in January 2019 and continued her hunger strike till May, a total of 200 days.
Abdullah Ocalan is the leader of PKK which has been waging a war against the Turkish government for the independence of Kurdish regions since 1984. PKK alleges persecution by the government of Kurdish minorities which is almost 25 percent of Turkey’s total population. The Turkish government has accused HDP of having links with the PKK.