Imprisoned Kurdish politician Leyla Güven faces yet another lawsuit

Another lawsuit has been filed against the imprisoned Kurdish politician Leyla Güven over her demand for accountability for massacres of the Kurdish people.

The public prosecutor's office of Silopi district of Şırnak has filed a lawsuit against Kurdish politician Leyla Güven, accusing her of incitement of the people and demanding a prison sentence of between one and three years. The background to the charges is a speech in which Güven reiterated her demand for accountability for massacres against the Kurdish people.

Güven gave the speech in question in December 2020 at a memorial service for Taybet Inan in Silopi. The 57-year-old woman, who was called "Mother Taybet" during her lifetime, was shot dead by the Turkish army in the street during the curfew declared on 14 December 2015 in the district. Inan's death was particularly dramatic because the body of the mother of eleven could not be recovered for seven days. The Turkish security forces shot at anything that moved. Her brother-in-law, Yusuf Inan, was also shot while trying to evacuate Inan's dead body.

Leyla Güven, who was arrested a few days after the commemoration, had participated in the commemoration as co-chair of the grassroots movement Democratic Society Congress (DTK). In a speech at the time, she stated: "The struggle for justice for Taybet Inan and all other people who have been victims of the genocidal policies of the Turkish state continues resolutely. We will demand accountability from the murderers who continue to commit massacres against Kurdish society today in order to destroy the people."

The prosecution considers Güven's words to be hate speech. "Especially the inflammatory statements 'accountability' and 'resistance' are suitable to incite hatred against a part of the population, to attack the human dignity of others thereby and to disturb the public peace," says the indictment, which has already been accepted by the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Silopi District Court. The trial is scheduled to open on 31 October.


Leyla Güven has been behind bars since 21 December 2020, currently in a high security prison in Elazığ. She was sentenced to 22 years and three months in prison in Amed (Diyarbakir) for alleged PKK membership. In the person of Leyla Güven, the court stylised the matriarchal early history of the peoples of Mesopotamia as an enemy image for the security of the Turkish state. A few months earlier, Güven had been deprived of her parliamentary mandate. In June 2021, the prison sentence was confirmed.

Last October, Güven was again sentenced to many years in prison, also in Amed, but this time for "propaganda for a terrorist organisation". She received eleven years and seven months imprisonment for her statements in three different speeches she had made as a member of parliament. About a year earlier, a court in Hakkari had imposed a five-year prison sentence on Güven for the same charge. However, this is not the first time she has been in prison.

Leyla Güven was first arrested in 2009 as part of the internationally criticised "KCK operations" and was only released after five years. At the time of her arrest, she was mayor of the Viranşehir district of Urfa. In January 2018, Güven was again remanded in custody, this time for her criticism of Turkey's war of aggression against Afrin in northern Syria. At that time, she initiated a 200-day hunger strike in prison in November for the lifting of solitary confinement conditions for PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned on the prison island of Imrali since 1999. In June 2020, Leyla Güven was arrested again, only a few hours after the parliament in Ankara had revoked her mandate and thus also her immunity. The reason given was the now legally binding verdict in the KCK trial. In addition to the trial for the alleged incitement of the people, other trials against Güven are also pending.