HDP lawmaker Güven sworn into Turkish parliament one year after election

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Güven on Wednesday was sworn into parliament, over one year after being elected to office while behind bars.

The HDP lawmaker from the Kurdish-majority province of Diyarbakır will start her new post by taking part in a parliamentary discussion on a tourism bill, Artı Gerçek news site reported.

Güven, the co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress, an umbrella organisation for Kurdish groups, was elected to parliament while in jail during Turkey’s June 24 general elections.

The HDP lawmaker was arrested in January 2018 on terror-related charges and led a hunger strike campaign to protest the treatment of jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan. The PKK leader, who has been imprisoned since 1999, had not been allowed visitors, including family members and lawyers, for several years.

Güven ended her 200-day hunger strike, in which she was joined by thousands of inmates, on May 26, the PKK leader called on protestors to finish the strike. Öcalan’s call followed a move by the Turkish government to lift the ban on visits by his lawyers.

Ankara accuses HDP politicians of harbouring sympathies and acting in the interest of the PKK, an armed group that has been in war in Turkey for over three decades, and has jailed a number of lawmakers, including the party’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Fiken Yüsekdağ, as part of a crackdown on the group.