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Palestinian revolutionary icon Leyla Khaled demands release of political prisoners in Turkey

PALESTINIAN revolutionary Leyla Khaled compared the struggle of her people to that of the Kurds today as she backed demands to release two Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MPs who were arrested last week.

She sent a message of solidarity to Leyla Guven and Musa Farisogullari who were detained on Thursday after being stripped of their parliamentary immunity amid accusations they they were supporters of the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

The symbol of Palestinian resistance said she was “sorry to hear that our comrades, whom we respect and love are sent to prison,” demanding the release of all political prisoners from Turkish jails.

“We, the Palestinians, suffer the same pain due to the Israel occupation and the violent policies they impose on our people … We shall win together!” Ms Khaled said.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) executive member is a longstanding supporter of the HDP and has addressed the party’s congresses, offering support and solidarity in the global struggle against oppression.

She met Ms Guven in April last year during the Hakkari MP’s hunger strike in protest against the government’s treatment of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who has been held in isolation on Imrali island for more than 20 years.

The jailed HDP MP was described as “the symbol of women’s freedom struggle” today by the party’s Istanbul deputy Dilsat Canbaz.

She said Ms Guven “did not kneel, did not surrender” and her will “is a symbol not only in Kurdistan, but the world.”

HDP has warned of a coup against democracy with attacks on the party and its supporters escalating in recent weeks amid rumours that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to call a snap election, just two years after a poll marred by allegations of fraud and corruption.

More than 15,000 HDP members and activists have been detained since 2015, with 6,000 receiving jail sentences, according to the party.

At least 200 elected officials and seven former HDP MPs are behind bars, including former party co-chairs Figen Yuksekdag and Selahattin Demirtas.

Turkish government-appointed officials have taken control of 51 of the 65 municipalities won by the HDP in last year's local elections.

Ms Yuksekgag condemned the recent arrests but vowed that those resisting would win.

“People’s will to resist cannot be destroyed by coups. We will win our freedom and liberty together,” she said.

Ms Guven’s legal team has issued an urgent appeal for international solidarity demanding her immediate release.

They told the Star that the latest arrests were “the harbinger of more state repression as the country further sinks into a devastating economic crisis and political instability under pandemic conditions.”

Lawyers said the application for her to be released under the same conditions that saw Peoples’ Republican Party (CHP) MP Enis Berberoglu freed on Friday had been refused.

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign is hosting a meeting at 7pm on Thursday with speakers including HDP women’s commission chair and MP Ayse Basaran; HDP executive member Alp Altinors; TSSA Women in Focus chair Sarah-Jane McDonough and former Aslef president Tosh McDonald.

Register at [email protected] or watch via livestream on the Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign’s Facebook page.

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