HDP denounces prison sentence of Kurdish former MP Leyla Güven

The pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned a prison sentence given to Kurdish former lawmaker Leyla Güven on Monday, describing the ruling as “the result of the applied enemy law.”

“With this verdict, judicial organs have once again shown that they act in line with the interests of the government,” HDP’s central executive committee said in a statement.

“This hostile decision is not only against Leyla Güven and the DTK, but also against all Kurds and the opposition,” it said. The Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an umbrella organisation for Kurdish political movement in Turkey.

On Monday, a court in Diyarbakır sentenced Güven, who was stripped of her parliamentary status in June, to 22 years and three months in prison for membership of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and two counts of terrorist propaganda. Güven was acquitted of 16 other charges in the same hearing.

The propaganda charges stemmed from two speeches Güven gave as the DTK co-chair. Güven had already served a one-year term in prison for calling Turkey’s military incursion into Kurdish-held northeast Syrian territories an “invasion.”

“Leyla Güven is a person of struggle who devoted her life to peace; she is a monument of honour,” the HDP said. The party called the DTK “a civilian, democratic institution that played a crucial role in the most critical periods for peacebuilding in these lands.”

Güven’s sentencing “has once again shown that [the government] will insist on the deadlock with respect to the Kurdish issue,” HDP said.

HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş said the sentence was politically-motivated.

While serving time in prison over unrelated charges, Güven had gone on a hunger strike protesting prison conditions for political prisoners and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in 2018, sparking a wave of hunger strikes in Turkey’s prisons.

Güven’s trial was part of a recent wave of indictments against prominent Kurdish politicians, including former lawmakers Sebahat Tuncel and Gültan Kışanak.

The former lawmaker faced the court on Tuesday morning for the sentence to be read to her in person, after which she was taken to the Diyarbakır Women's Prison, Mezopotamya agency reported.

“Don't worry. Work hard so we can come back soon,” Güven said to fellow HDP politicians waiting outside the courthouse.

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