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Pro-Kurdish former MP sentenced to 22 years in prison by Turkish court

Pro-Kurdish former MP sentenced to 22 years in prison by Turkish court
Leyla Guven, a member of the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), has been jailed by a Turkish court for more than 22 years on terrorism-related charges.

The Heavy Penal Court in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir province handed down the prison term and issued a warrant for her arrest, as her current location is not known by authorities.

The Turkish parliament previously revoked Guven’s seat in the Grand National Assembly and a provincial court sentenced her to six years behind bars immediately after her legislative immunity was removed. However, she was released days later pending a further court hearing.

Guven rose to international prominence in 2018 when she engaged in a 200-day hunger strike in an attempt to raise awareness and end the imprisonment of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan has been forced to endure a life sentence, essentially in complete isolation, since February 1999.

The former deputy of the HDP was formally charged by prosecutors with 19 crimes, including “establishing and managing an illegal organization,” “provoking the public to join illegal meetings and demonstrations,” and participating in “illegal” marches.

Guven’s legal team has announced that it will appeal the verdict and, following the court’s ruling, her daughter Sabiha Temizkan tweeted that the Turkish government is “the enemy of the law.”

The HDP has been accused of being linked to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), both of which have been listed as terrorist organizations by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

Dozens of members of the HDP have been imprisoned over alleged ties to both the PKK and YPG in the past year. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has argued that the government’s actions are necessary to protect the country from national security threats.

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However, members of the HDP have argued that the Turkish government’s campaign against its members is being orchestrated by Erdogan and his party to silence opposing voices and members, following the attempted coup in the country in 2016.

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