Jailed Kurdish opposition politician Leyla Güven has reached a critical condition and has been unable to see her lawyer for four days due to health problems caused by her long-running hunger strike, Turkish news site Diken reported.
Güven, who is both the co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress, an umbrella organisation for Kurdish groups, and a deputy for the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is imprisoned pending trial in Diyarbakır, south-east Turkey after being arrested in January 2018 for criticising Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militias in northwest Syria.
The Kurdish deputy is one of nine from the HDP who are currently held behind bars in Turkey, including the party’s former co-chair, Selahattin Demirtaş. The party is particularly vulnerable to prosecution due to perceived links tying it to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an outlawed group that has fought Turkish security forces for Kurdish self-rule since the 1980s.
Day 65 of Leyla Güven’s Hunger Strike in Turkish prison. Her health has rapidly deteriorated & is now at life threatening stage. Silence is no longer viable, in fact, it is complicity at this stage.
#LeylaGuven< Morning Star@M_Star
It was the Turkish state’s treatment of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, that drove Güven to begin a hunger strike last November. Öcalan was captured by Turkey in 1999, and after the breakdown of peace negotiations between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and PKK in 2015, has been subject to severe restrictions on meetings.
Mr. Ocalan is arbitrarily denied access to his lawyers and loved ones, even though Turkish law guarantees that right to all its prisoners.
No one has heard from him since September 11, 2016. Before that, he was visited regularly by Turkish officials and Kurdish politicians, even hailed as a potential Nelson Mandela of Kurds.
While Leyla Guven is slowly losing her eyesight and hearing (due to hunger strike) to give peace a chance, the stomach-churning Turkish prosecutor is accusing her of fomenting “terrorism” in Turkey.
The country’s most recent parliamentary elections were held on June 24, 2018. Two jailbirds, Leyla Guven and Enis Berberoglu, put their names on the ballots.
Both got elected. Turkish law stipulates that elected officials enjoy immunity from prosecution while serving the public good.
Mr. Berberoglu, a Turk, was released. Ms. Guven, a Kurd, was not.
The Kurdish parliamentarian is barely surviving on a daily diet of three tablespoons of sugar, two teaspoons of salt, water and one 500 mg vitamin B1. She may soon be nothing but a pile of dead bones and dry skin.
HDP politician Leyla Guven began her hunger strike on November 6, 2018. Photo: HDP
The Turkish media treat her as an alien from outer space. The Kurds have written about her case, sparking scores of solidarity fasts in Kurdistan, Turkey, Europe and even Canada
Güven’s health has deteriorated after two months of the hunger fast to the point that she was unable to attend her mother’s funeral last week. The politician has complained of stomach cramps, weakness, low blood pressure and other problems.
Güven won her seat representing the south-east Turkish town of Hakkari in the June 2018 elections. The appointment as deputy conferred on her parliamentary immunity, which should have spared her from serving time in jail. However, prosecutors appealed against the release warrant issued after her victory, and succeeded in having it overturned.