Leyla Güven

Leyla Güven is resisting for democracy and peace in Turkey

Leyla Güven – a summary biography:

  • 55 years old, mother of three children
  • Free Women’s Movement (TJA) activist
  • Co-Chair of Democratic Society Congress (KCD)
  • Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Hakkari province
  • Previous Mayor of Küçükdikili (2004-2009) and Viransehir (2009-2014) (HDP)
  • Arrested on 22 January 2018 for her criticism of the Turkish army’s invasion of Afrin in Northern Syria and for other statements she has made as a Kurdish politician in Turkey
  • Currently facing 31 years and six months imprisonment for representing her people
  • Due to international solidarity efforts and growing pressure on the government, Leyla Güven was released on 25 January 2019. Shortly after, she declared that since her demand had not been met, she will continue her action.

Leyla Güven stands for freedom of Women

As a member of the Kurdish Free Women’s Movement (TJA) in Turkey and the HDP Women’s Assembly, Leyla Güven played an active role. In today’s Kurdistan,“Jin, Jiyan, Azadî (Women, Life, Freedom)!“ has become a political and social slogan, meaning that a free life is impossible without women.
Following Öcalan’s philosophy of women’s liberation, women in Kurdistan have become prominent and vital participants in all fields of life. Women now comprise more than 50% of most political decision-making bodies, and a system of co-chairs (including one male chairperson and one female chairperson) exists in political parties as well in civil society organisations, municipalities, etc. This is a historical achievement, showing that the patriarchal reality in Kurdistan is being transformed by women, both in mixed-gender political structures and in autonomous women’s structures as well. In this way, radical democracy is implemented in politics and society.

The life-threatening stage of the hunger strike

Leyla Güven began a hunger strike on 8 November 2018. Her situation has reached a critical stage, a stage that can no longer be delayed, ignored or neglected by the international community.

She has other health problems such as aphasia, sensitivity to sound and light and blurring of consciousness, and has a brain tumor that requires medication for treatment.

Spread of the indefinite hunger strikes

Leyla Güven’s hunger strike action spread inside and outside prisons with the participation of people all around the world with the motto “Leyla Guven’s demand is our demand”. In addition to 239 political prisoners in Turkey and Kurdistan, Kurds and their friends have launched hunger strikes in France, Kurdistan, Wales and Canada. Solidarity demonstrations and actions all around the world are growing by the day.

Because of this resistance, on 12 January 2019, Abdullah Öcalan received a short visit from his brother at the Imrali island prison for the first time in more than two years. The meeting happened under extraordinary circumstances and outside of regular procedures of visitation. The Turkish government played a card to break the resistance and, in particular, they wanted to break Leyla Güven’s resistance. However, this is in no way enough to signify a breakthrough in total isolation. Leyla Güven and all other hunger strikers have unveiled and defeated the plans of the Turkish government, and the resistance has spread even further.

Leyla Güven’s demand

At the third hearing of her case in a court in Diyabakir on November 7, 2018, Leyla Güven said,“Today the politics of isolation on Mr Öcalan are not imposed on him alone, but on a people in his person. Isolation is a crime against humanity. I am a member of this people. I am starting an indefinite hunger strike to protest the isolation on Mr Öcalan. I will not submit any defence to the court from now on. I will continue my protest until the judiciary ends its unlawful decisions and this politics of isolation is terminated. If need be, I will turn this protest into death fast.