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FORMER Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Guven faces more than 30 years in jail after Turkish prosecutors accused her today of a string of offences, including membership of a terrorist organisation.
The charges relate to her role as co-chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an organisation that campaigns for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurdish population and a peaceful resolution to its so-called Kurdish question.
Despite being invited to government talks on the development of a new Turkish constitution, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) now brands the DTK a terrorist organisation linked to the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Ms Guven, who was stripped of her parliamentary status earlier this year, was charged with “establishing and managing a [terrorist] organisation,” “provoking the public to an unlawful assembly and demonstration march” and not dispersing when ordered to do so.
Prosecutors also demanded that she be charged with “making propaganda for a terrorist organisation” regarding a statement allegedly reflecting PKK policy that Ms Guven made during a 2016 protest against Turkish military operations in Lice.
The court was also told that the Kurdish politician was part of the hierarchical structure of the PKK and “received orders and instructions” from senior figures within the organisation.
Ms Guven is seen by many as the embodiment of the Kurdish women’s struggle and a symbol of resistance, not just in Turkey but across the world.
She shot to international prominence last year after she led a hunger strike, which was joined by thousands of detainees in Turkish prisons, in protest at the treatment of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is being held in isolation.
Last week, Sebahat Tuncel, a former co-chair of the Democratic Regions Party — the HDP’s municipal sister party — described Turkish jails as “internment camps for Kurds.”
Thousands of Kurds languish behind bars, including many elected politicians, as oppression against the Kurdish people continues to intensify.
Some 16,000 HDP activists have been detained since 2015 and 6,000 of them jailed, along with 200 elected officials and seven MPs including the party’s former co-chairs Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.
More than 50 elected mayors of the 65 municipalities won by the HDP in last year’s local elections have been dismissed and replaced by government-appointed trustees.
Ms Guven’s case has been adjourned until December 21.
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