Turkey sentences Kurdish former lawmaker Leyla Güven to 22 years in jail

A Turkish court sentenced on Monday a high-profile former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker, who was stripped of her parliamentary seat, to over 22 years in jail on terror charges, Sözcü newspaper reported.

The Diyarbakır court convicted Leyla Güven, who went on a months-long hunger strike, of membership in a terrorist organisation and spreading terror propaganda, it said.

Güven began a hunger strike in Nov. 2018 to protest the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey for almost four decades. 

The PKK is designated a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The 54-year-old began her hunger strike to protest the prison conditions of Öcalan, who has been barred from meeting his lawyers and has had only limited family visits since the collapse of a peace process between the state and the PKK in 2015 that aimed to end three decades of conflict.

Güven was taken into police custody in Jan. 2018 on other charges.

The former HDP lawmaker and co-chair for the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organisation for Kurdish political movement, was freed under judicial control last year after serving a one-year term for labelling the Turkish military operation against a Syrian Kurdish militia an “invasion.”

Turkey’s parliament stripped Güven of her parliamentary status in June.

The government accuses the pro-Kurdish HDP of harbouring sympathy and acting in the interest of the  PKK, a claim the party denies.