Turkey sentences Kurdish ex-MP Guven to 22 years in jail

A Turkish court on Monday sentenced a prominent Kurdish former lawmaker who went on a months-long hunger strike to more than 22 years in jail on terror-related charges.
Leyla Guven, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker who was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in June, was convicted of membership of a terror group and disseminating terror propaganda for outlawed Kurdish militants, an AFP reporter said.

Guven, 56, launched a 200-day hunger strike in 2018 in a bid to end jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation by securing him access to his family and lawyers.

Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is blacklisted by Ankara and its Western allies as a terror group, has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

He has been serving a life sentence for treason on a prison island off Istanbul since his 1999 capture.

Despite his almost complete isolation, he is still a key figure of the Kurdish insurgency and the movement generally in the region.

In May last year, he called for an end to hunger strikes by thousands of jailed supporters in Turkey, who were surviving by drinking only salty and sugary water.

Ocalan was allowed to meet his brother Mehmet for the first time in more than two years on January 12 last year, but details of the meeting have not been made public.

In May last year, he was allowed to see his lawyers for the first time in eight years.

Guven was in custody on separate charges when she launched her hunger strike.

She 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.”

The government accuses the HDP of links to the PKK, which the party denies.

Guven’s daughter Sabiha Temizkan said her mother was convicted for her work with the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Congress (DTK), a civil society group which has not been banned by the Turkish state but remains under scrutiny.

In a tweet, Temizkan called the Turkish government “the enemy of the law.”

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