In brief

Former Kurdish MP Leyla Güven sentenced to 22 years in prison

“This is a decision against all Kurds,” says HDP party

Leyla Güven.
Leyla Güven. Author: HDP
Former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Güven was sentenced on 21 December to 22 years and three months in prison for membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and for spreading terrorist propaganda, according to documents seen by Reuters.

Güven is one of dozens of HDP leaders and mayors that have sentenced over the last years on the same charge. The party strongly denies that its members have any links with the PKK, an illegal organisation in Turkey.

Güven was also co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organisation of the Kurdish left-wing movement that promotes the ideology of democratic confederalism in Turkey.

The former MP has been arrested several times, always in the framework of the repressive policy of the Turkish state against the Kurdish movement. In January 2018, she was arrested for criticising the Turkish invasion in Rojava (Northern Syria). Güven was imprisoned for one year until a court ordered her release after her health had deteriorated after having carried out an 11-week hunger strike.

“This hostile decision is not only against Leyla Güven and the DTK, but also against all Kurds and the opposition,” the HDP said in a statement. “We refuse to recognize this unlawful, hostile prison sentence.”

Turkish authorities blame the DTK for having links with the PKK, and in recent months have arrested several of its members. In November, five people were confirmed arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organisation.