Our MP Leyla Güven began an indefinite hunger strike in prison

Our MP Ms. Leyla Güven began an indefinite hunger strike in prison on 8 November 2018 to protest the politics of isolation imposed on Mr Abdullah Öcalan at İmralı Island Prison. 

On 7 November 2018, during the third hearing of her case at Diyarbakır 9th Heavy Penal Court, Ms Leyla Güven announced that she began an indefinite hunger strike in protest of the politics of isolation imposed on Mr Abdullah Öcalan at İmralı Island Prison. 

At the hearing Ms Güven said: “Today the politics of isolation on Mr Öcalan is 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 defense 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.”

So far Turkish authorities have refused by more than 750 applications of Mr. Öcalan’s lawyers’ to visit their client at İmralı Island. The last time his lawyers visited Mr Öcalan was 27 July 2011. His brother Mehmet Öcalan made the last family visit to Mr Öcalan on 11 September 2016. There has been no news about Mr. Öcalan’s health and life since then. Mr Öcalan is not allowed to communicate with his family or lawyers via phone or letters, either. He is under absolute isolation.

Detained on 22 January 2018 due to her statements on the Turkish government’s invasion of Afrin, Syria, Ms Leyla Güven was arrested on 31 January 2018 and has been held in Diyarbakir E-type High Security Prison since then. She faces up to 31 years and 6 months in prison due to her statements on Afrin and other speeches she made as a Kurdish politician. 

Ms Güven has been a well-known Kurdish politician. In 2004, she was elected to serve as the mayor of Küçükdikili in Adana. In 2009, she became the mayor of Viranşehir in Urfa. The same year she was arrested and spent five years in prison. In 7 June 2015 elections, she was elected to the Turkish parliament as an HDP Deputy for Urfa, but lost hear seat in the snap elections on 1 November 2015. Ms Güven is currently the co-chair of Democratic Society Congress (DTK) and also an HDP Deputy for Hakkari, elected on 24 June 2018 while under pre-trial detention. 

The politics of total isolation on Mr Abdullah Öcalan as well as the arrest of Kurdish politicians are blatant violations of both Turkish and international humanitarian law. The isolation of Mr Öcalan, who was one of the two architects of the peace process between 2013 and 2015, has obstructed all efforts to re-initiate a dialogue between the conflicting parties and resume the peace process. 

We invite the international community, in particular those who are concerned about human rights, democracy, peace building in the Kurdish issue, and the rule of law in Turkey, to break their silence on this crucial matter, and meticulously follow and take action on the situation of both Mr. Abdullah Öcalan and Ms. Leyla Güven. 

Hişyar Özsoy
Vice Co-chair of HDP Responsible for Foreign Affairs
MP for Diyarbakır
12 November 2018     


Please click here for the statement to the Council of Europe by Mr. Öcalan’s lawyers providing details on the politics of isolation. 

Please click here for HDP’s statement on the legal situation of Ms. Leyla Güven.