Leyla Zana by Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd

Leyla Zana


I want to tell you about a suffering land and the concerted efforts of the rdng circles to deny the very existence of its people. I am talking of the struggles of those who are standing up to oppression and worlung for peace, freedom, brotherhood, democracy and labour rights. In other words, I am referring to the reality of my country, of its peoples and the state of affairs now unfolding in it . . . If it needs to be stated again, I belong to those who seek peace.

These are the words of Leyla Zana, a Kurdish parliamentarian and author, writing in 1998 from her prison cell to the wife of the President of Turkey. Her case is perhaps one of the most notorious in Turkey today and her imprisonment has been denounced by many h- rights or&isations. Although there have been clear improvements in the country's enjoyment of human rights, as the relatively new Ankara Government continues to work towards EU membership, Zana's sentencing to a total of seventeen years in jail has given rise to grave international concern.

Zana, the first Kurdish woman to be elected to Turkev's Parliament. has been in vrison since 1994. She is serving a fifteen-year sentence for her activities as a Kurdish activist, and an additional two-year term for an article written in 1998 while in jail.

Born in 1961 in south-eastern Turkey, where

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter