Women for Leyla in Istanbul

Women who are carrying out the campaign ‘Women in solidarity and giving voice to Leyla’ held a press conference in a hotel in Istanbul to convey details of the signature campaign for Leyla.

The meeting opened with the reading of a message sent to women by Leyla Güven. The HDP Hakkari MP has been on hunger strike for 114 days demanding the end of the isolation against Abdullah Öcalan.

Message from Leyla Güven

The message that Güven sent to women is as follows:

“Hello dear women, we are in the 8 March week. I congratulate all the women of the world and your 8 March day of resistance, and I believe that every new day, every new 8 March, will announce more free days.

On 8 March we are going to shout our demands which are the demands of society. Every day we will raise the resistance and maximize the rights and law of women within the society. We have no doubt about that.

Hundreds of our friends in prisons are saying that. Throughout history, women have led many actions to increase the freedom and democracy and to get to the place that women deserve.

I am also honored to lead such an action. I have many identities, most of which I did not choose. I was not able to decide on many issues. I didn’t make all the decisions on my life. For example, I decided to be a feminist. I made the decision to launch this action. I’ve designed everything in my own head and that’s where I started the hunger strike. I still feel good about it. My brain gives me morale, even though my body is giving me a hard time. I made my own decision.

It is very valuable for you to get together. Women’s struggle is very meaningful. Women visitors give me a different kind of enthusiasm. In that sense, we say that if a woman is subjected to violence, all women are subjected to violence. I salute you with all my heart. We are very close.

I feel lucky, because of my dear friends and comrades. I hope we’ll be there on the 8 of March. Fortunately, I am your friend and comrade.”

After the message, Ayşegül Devecioğlu read the joint press release issued by 525 women’s organisations.

The statement said: “Listening, speaking up make us live. We remember that voice from the earthquakes. ‘is there anybody out there?’ The voice of life-saving is the voice of life. We hope that a voice will come. Leyla Güven is in Diyarbakır. She is on hunger strike to reclaim life. She has worked and led the women’s struggle in Turkey for many years. She has been elected MP in Hakkari with 71 percent of the votes. Leyla wants peace. With her body. We cannot say, we did not hear, we did not know, we did not see. Leyla Güven is there, in Diyarbakir. Are we not tired of deaths… Women defend life. We stand in solidarity with Leyla Güven.”

After the joint statement some of the women in the press conference spoke.

Peace activist Nimet Tanrıkulu said: “I looked at Leyla’s action as a way to peace. Leyla told us that it was her own decision to go on hunger strike and that women were most isolated. This process is a very challenging process. Women need to do a lot. Let’s get together for Leyla. She will open the way to peace if she lives.”

Nesteren Davutoğlu from the Unity for Democracy (DIB) said: “I have known Leyla Güven after our visit. I have met her withered body and her radiant face. I listened with a Turkish ear. Laws should be applied. I think this should be the umbrella that all of us should stand under. Let’s claim for our rights, Leyla has showed us the way.”

Historian Ayşe Erzan said: “The call of Leyla is not just to us. This war must end now and these injustices must end. Defending these legal rights is the struggle for peace itself. Leyla Güven says, ‘Come on.’ She wants everybody to claim her demand which is everyone’s demand.”

HDK Spokesperson and HDP Muş MP Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit said: “Leyla Güven said that this process is an unlawful process. Her demand is very simple. She wants this lawlessness to be lifted. It is a demand that is so clear and legitimate and yet unfortunately for 114 days she has been on hunger strike. As of today, all political prisoners have gone on hunger strikes. It is very important to reclaim their demand. We want women to have peace and we want to be a country where we feel free. We need to be the voice of this struggle. Leyla’s demands need to be made visible. Silence kills.”