Turkish court arrests prominent Kurdish politician Leyla Güven

Prominent Kurdish politician Leyla Güven was arrested late on Dec. 21 after she was handed 22 years and three months in prison in the case that she was accused of being a PKK member and making its propaganda. Güven, who is a former HDP deputy, was stripped of her parliamentary status in June.

Duvar English 

A Turkish court late on Dec. 21 arrested a former pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker who was stripped of her parliamentary status in June after handing her 22 years and three months in prison on three separate terrorism charges.

Democratic Society Congress (DTK) co-chair Leyla Güven, along with two other opposition lawmakers, lost her status in June after a conviction was finalized in a separate trial that ruled she was a member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Ankara's Western allies and rights groups condemned that move, seen as part of a broader government crackdown in which thousands of HDP officials and members have been arrested and dozens of its mayors and lawmakers unseated in recent years.

In the latest sentencing on Dec. 21, Güven was given 14 years and three months in jail on another charge of membership of a terrorist organization, and an additional eight years for two separate charges of disseminating terrorist propaganda.

Güven's daughter Sabiha Temizkan slammed the ruling.

"What is this, if not enemy law?" Temizkan, who is also a journalist, asked on Twitter. 

Temizkan also said that her mother was convicted for her work with the DTK, a civil society group that has not been banned by the Turkish state but remains under close scrutiny.

The opposition has accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of seeking to quash dissent by jailing opposition members and critics since the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt. The government has said its actions are justified by threats facing the country.

The state has appointed trustees to 59 out of a total of 65 municipalities that the HDP won in local elections in March 2019.

Ankara accuses the HDP of ties to the PKK, which has fought against the state in the largely Kurdish southeast since 1984 and is deemed a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

Before she was arrested, Güven said that she will continue to be in politics whether in prison or outside.

"If I were to flee the country you wouldn't even notice. I'm not going anywhere. It takes courage to confront the oppressor," Güven said on Dec. 21.

Güven had spearheaded a hunger strike by thousands of inmates who called for an end to PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan's years of isolation and demanded he receive regular access to family and lawyers. It ended in May of last year at Öcalan's request after he met his lawyers for the first time since 2011.

Öcalan has been held in an island prison since Turkish special forces captured him in Kenya in 1999.