Message of support and in solidarity with Leyla Güven

Message of support and in solidarity with Leyla Güven signed by over 80 politicians including MPs, MEPs, from all parties including Labour, Green Party, Sinn Fein, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru and many academics, lawyers, trade unionists and activists and artists like the well-known actress Maxine Peake:

Leyla Güven, Peoples’ Democratic Party MP and co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress, began an indefinite hunger strike in a Turkish prison on 7 November 2018. Ms Guven announced that her action is in protest at the isolation imposed on the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned on Imrali Island.  Abdullah Ocalan has not been allowed to meet with his lawyers since 27 July 2011. He last met with a family member on 12 September 2016. There is no news of Abdullah Ocalan’s health or welfare since then. Leyla Guven is 54 years old and her condition is now causing concern.  

Leyla Güven has served as a mayor as well as being an elected MP. She was 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. She faces 31 years and six months imprisonment for representing her people. 

At the third hearing of her case in a court in Diyabakir, Leyla 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 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.’

The isolation of Abdullah Ocalan and the criminalisation of any expression of Kurdish aspirations to representation, manifest Turkey’s descent towards barbarism. We call on the international community to raise its voice and for the Council of Europe and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture to intervene with the government in Turkey to demand an end to Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation. We send our solidarity to Leyla Guven MP. When a woman such as Leyla is driven to this act of self-sacrifice by racism, intolerance and a refusal to seek a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question we must be heard.

25 November 2018, London

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign:

Supported by: Dr Nadje Al-Ali,  Chair Centre of Gender Studies, SOAS;Maxine Peake, actor, writer; Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Lecturer of Political Sociology in the Department of Sociology at Cambridge University; Bruce Kent, peace activist; Dr Derek Wall,Goldsmith, University of London; Christine Blower, NUE International Secretary; Amber Huff, Researcher Sussex University;Victoria Bridges, Aunt of Anna Campbell/Shehid Helin Qerecox; Margaret Owen OBE, human rights lawyer; Cynthia Cockburn, writer; Lord Rea; Lord Dholakia;  Hywel Williams MP; Tommy Sheppard SNP MP; Chris Stephens SNP MP; Dr Philippa Whitford SNP MP; Ronnie Cowen MP; Ruskell M (Mark), MSP; Ross Greer MSPand John Finnie MSP,Scottish Parliament; Jean Lambert MEP; Jill Evans MEP; Julie Ward MEP; Martina Anderson MEP, Sinn Fein; Liadh Ni Riada MEP, Sinn Fein; Lynn Boylan MEP, Sinn Fein; Matt Carthy, MEP, Sinn Fein;  James Kelman, writer; Dr Radha D’Souza, Westminster University; Les Levidow, CAMPACC; Nick Hildyard, policy analyst;Lindsey German, Convenor Stop the War Coalition; Gareth Peirce, solicitor;  John Hunt, journalist and writer; Janet Biehl, writer, translator;  Rahila Gupta, writer, journalist; Simon Dubbins, International Director UNITE; Clare Baker, International Officer UNITE; Dirk Campbell, composer; Meredith Tax, writer; Maryam Namazie, campaigner; Prof Kariane Westrheim, University of Bergen; Sarah Parker, translator; Dr Sarah Glynn, artist, activist; Stephen Smellie, Deputy Covenor UNISON Scotland; Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU); John Smith,President of GFTU; Steve Sweeney, International Editor, Morning Star; Alastair Lyons, Solicitor; Dr Patrick Huff, Birkbeck College, University of London; Bert Schouwenbourg,trade union advisor; Trevor Rayne, Editorial Board of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!; David Morgan, journalist; Melanie Gingell, barrister; Jonathan Bloch, writer; Penny Dimond, actress and writer; Raghu Jayantiya, political activist, London;Dr Felix Padel,writer; Maggie Bowden,General Secretary, Liberation; Robert Atkins,solicitor; Brighton Kurdistan Solidarity; Bristol Kurdish Solidarity Network; Phil Neale, Thanet Friends of Rojava; Maude Casey, writer; Shoal Collective, co-operative of writers and researchers; Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC;  Michal Chantowski, Green Party International Coordinator; Alice Hubbard, Green Party International Co-Coordinator; Emily Apple, journalist; Plaid Cymru, Party of Wales MPs and AMs: Lord Wigley of Caernarfon; Liz Saville Roberts MP; Jonathan Edwards MP; Ben Lake MP; Leanne Wood AM; Helen Mary Jones AM; Llyr Gruffydd AM; Bethan Sayed AM; Dai Lloyd AM; Penny Papadopoulou,journalist; Clara Osagiede, campaigner.