After graduating from Pazarcık high school, Kurtulan worked on social projects in the Küçükdikili municipality in Adana. A former president of the women's branch of HADEP, in July 2007, Kurtulan stood as an independent candidate in the Turkish parliamentary elections and entered the Turkish Parliament. She then joined the Democratic Society Party (DTP). She is currently MP for Van.
On 9 November 2007 the Turkish chief public prosecutor launched an investigation into her activities, after she visited Iraq with two other DTP politicians to obtain the release of eight Turkish soldiers held by PKK forces. The prosecutor requested that the Turkish Parliament remove the parliamentary immunity of all three MPs. 
In the same month she admitted being married to a PKK member, adding that her husband, Samlan Kurtulan, who the media reported to be in a PKK guerilla camp in northern Iraq, had been away for 13 years and that she remained married only on paper.  
In May 2009 she called for an investigation into police violence against children. 
- "Meet Our Women Parliamentarians". Bianet. 2007-01-13. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- Taylor, Gordon (2007-05-10). "Alice in Turkeyland". Progressive historians. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- "Protecting politicians or protecting democracy?". KHRP. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2009-08-14.[dead link]
- "Kurdish MP admits husband with PKK". Institut Kurde de Paris. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- "DTP stives to contain 'terrorist husband' crisis". Today's Zaman. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
- "Kurdish MP brings police violence to Parliament". Bianet. 2009-05-10. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
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