Leyla Güven

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Leyla Güven
Born (1964-05-06) 6 May 1964 (age 55)
OccupationActivist, politician
Known forMP in the Turkish parliament and hunger striker

Leyla Güven (born 6 May 1964, Cihanbeyli, Konya, Turkey) is HDP MP for Hakkari, co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress and former mayor of the municipality of Viranşehir in the Şanlıurfa Province of Southeast Anatolia of Turkey, where she represented the former Democratic Society Party (DTP).


The seventh and youngest child of her family, Güven entered into an arranged marriage, in which she had two children who she brought up alone.[1] In 1980 she moved to Germany for family reasons, returning to Turkey in 1985.[2]

In 1994 she set up the Konya branch of HADEP[3] She was active for several years as the Provincial Woman Branch Chairwoman of Hadep, until the party was dissolved in 2003. This involved numerous brushes with the law. In 2000 she was arrested during a Hadep demonstration. [4]

She was elected Mayor of Küçükdikili, Adana in the 2004 local elections, when she stood as a candidate for the SHP (Social Democratic People's Party (Turkey))[5]

In 2006 she was again in trouble with the law as one of the signatories of the ROJ TV petition to the Danish Prime Minister.[6] In October 2007, she was one of five mayors arrested for expressing solidarity with the arrested mayor Osman Keser.[7]

On 20 May 2008 she was one of the signatories of the “Call for a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish question in Turkey”, published in the International Herald Tribune.[8]


In 2009 Turkish local elections she was elected Mayor of Viranşehir.[9] She was appointed a member of the Congress of the Council of Europe in September 2009 and was a key speaker during the Congress Plenary session debate, 14 October 2009, on the situation of local democracy in Southeast Anatolia.[10]

On 24 December 2009 she was detained in a large crack-down of Kurdish politicians.[11] Her trial began in October 2010. Commenting on these arrests, the head of the BBC office in Istanbul suggested that the Turkish prosecutors were "closing down the already limited opportunities for dialogue between the state and its largest minority".[12]

In May 2010 Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, visited her in prison in Diyarbakir and issued a declaration expressing his concern at the continued detention of so many Kurdish local elected representatives.[13]

In July 2014, after four years of detention, she finally got released with 30 other local elected representatives held in Diyarbakir.[14] On 26 March 2016 she was elected co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress together with Hatip Dicle.[15]

On the 22nd January 2018 she was detained and on the 31st arrested for her criticism of the Turkish Military Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.[16]It was argued that the Democratic Society Congress of which is a Co-Chair of, is a part of the Kurdistan Communities Union and therefore she was accused of the foundation and leadership of a forbidden organization.[17]

In the Parliamentary Elections of the 24th of June 2018 she was elected an MP for Hakkari. According to the Law as an MP she is granted immunity and her release was issued by a judge on 29th of June 2018. The prosecution appealed the verdict and the release was reversed before she was released.[18]

Hungerstrike 2018-2019[edit]

On 7th November 2018 she declared she was going on a hunger strike to protest the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan who is in prison on the island İmralı. [19] About 250 political prisoners have joined Güven with an indefinite hunger strike. During her hunger strike she only consumed Vitamin B and salty and sugary liquids. On the 25 January 2019, after 79 days in hunger strike Güven was released pending trial.[20] After her release she declared, that she will hold on to the hunger strike. It was not her aim to get released but the isolation of Öcalan to be ended.[21]On the 4 February 2019 she was awarded with the Honorary Citizenship of Paris.[22] On the 26 May 2019 she declared she will end her hungerstrike and asked the other hungerstrikers who followed her to end theirs as well. She said that with the end of the isolation of Öcalan the aim of the hungerstrike was reached.[23]


  1. ^ "Leyla Güven". Uçan Süpürge. 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-01.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Şanlıurfa - Viranşehir". Güneydogu. 2009-06-11. Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  3. ^ "Leyla Güven". Uçan Süpürge. 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-01.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Annual report 2000" (PDF). Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT). 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-26. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  5. ^ "Women in power and decision-making" (PDF). Turkey, Prime Ministry, General Directorate on the Status of Women. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  6. ^ "Construction of Kurdish Identity in the context of Globalization". Roj TV Blogspot. 2006-01-31. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  7. ^ "Five DTP Mayors Arrested". Info Turk. 2007. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  8. ^ "Call for a peaceful settlement of the Kurdish question in Turkey" (PDF). Institut Kurde. 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  9. ^ "Court Rules for Continuation of HDP MP Leyla Güven's Detention". Bianet. 11 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Speech by Mrs. Leyla Güven, Mayor of Viransehir, on the situation of local authorities in Southeast Anatolia". Council of Europe. 2009-10-14. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  11. ^ "Anti-PKK operations lead to detention of Kurdish mayors". Today's Zaman. 2009-12-25. Retrieved 2010-01-01.[dead link]
  12. ^ "AntTurkish anti-PKK op nets dozens". BBC. 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
  13. ^ "Turkey: Commissioner Hammarberg concludes his visit to Diyarbakir and Ankara". Council of Europe. 2010-05-26. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
  14. ^ "Congress pleased by release of Leyla Güven and the other elected representatives detained in Turkey". Council of Europe. 2014-07-03. Retrieved 2014-09-24.
  15. ^ "English – DEMOKRATİK TOPLUM KONGRESİ" (in Turkish). Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  16. ^ Istanbul - BIA News Desk (18 December 2018). "Former Diyarbakır Co-Mayor Kışanak Goes on 10-Day Hunger Strike in Prison".
  17. ^ WDR (2018-11-16). "Wo bleibt die Justiz für Leyla Güven?". www1.wdr.de (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  18. ^ İstanbul - BIA News Desk (29 June 2018). "Verdict of Release Issued for HDP Hakkari MP Leyla Güven Reversed". Bianet.
  19. ^ İstanbul - BIA News Desk (18 December 2018). "Former Diyarbakır Co-Mayor Kışanak Goes on 10-Day Hunger Strike in Prison". Bianet.
  20. ^ "Kurdish MP free after 79-day hunger strike". 2019-01-25. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  21. ^ Demir, Hayri (2019-01-28). "Kurdische Politikerin im Hungerstreik: „Ich setze meinen Protest fort“". Die Tageszeitung: taz (in German). ISSN 0931-9085. Retrieved 2019-01-29.
  22. ^ "Paris awards Leyla Guven with honorary citizenship". ANF News. Retrieved 2019-02-06.
  23. ^ "Leyla Güven: I End My Hunger Strike". Bianet. 26 May 2019.