International Women's Initiative for Leyla Güven

Urgent call: Save Leyla Güven’s life!

The International Women's Initiative published a declaration expressing solidarity with Kurdish politician Leyla Güven who is on the 80th day of hunger strike against the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Full text of the declaration reads as follows:

Leyla Güven, a prominent Kurdish activist and democratically-elected member of the parliament of Turkey, was arrested on 22 January 2018 for her criticism of the Turkish army’s invasion of Afrin in Northern Syria and for other statements she has made as a Kurdish politician in Turkey. She was facing 31 years and six months imprisonment for representing her people. Leyla Güven played an important role not only in the struggle for peace and democracy in Turkey, but also in the struggle for the liberation of women as a necessary condition for democracy and peace.

In prison, Leyla Güven began a hunger strike on 8 November 2018 in protest of the torturous isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan on Imrali Prison Island. Now her situation has reached a critical stage, a stage at which addressing her situation can no longer be delayed, ignored or neglected by the international community. She has various health problems such as aphasia, sensitivity to sound and light and blurring of consciousness. Due to international solidarity efforts and growing pressure on the government, Leyla Güven was released on 25 January 2019. Shortly after, she declared that since her demand had not been met, she will continue her action.

We understand and support Leyla Güven

We, the International Women's Initiative for Leyla Güven, fully understand and support Leyla’s statement, made at the third hearing of her case in a court in Diyarbakir on November 7, 2018:

Today the politics of isolation on Mr Öcalan are not imposed on him alone, but on a people in his person. Isolation is a crime against humanity. I am a member of this people. I am starting an indefinite hunger strike to protest the isolation on Mr Öcalan. I will not submit any defence to the court from now on. I will continue my protest until the judiciary ends its unlawful decisions and this politics of isolation is terminated. If need be, I will turn this protest into death fast.

Europe must act urgently

It is time for the European states to enact policies that recognize the political, social, cultural and human rights they refer to, so that they can give a significant contribution to peace efforts. Turkey has still strong political, institutional, military and economic ties with Europe. Therefore, Europe still has significant influence over Turkey. While European institutions have issued harsh criticism over Turkey’s sharp turn towards authoritarianism, they have nonetheless fallen short of taking any meaningful action to pressure the Erdoğan government. This allows the autocratic government of Turkey to deepen its ongoing erosion of human rights and the rule of law in the country. In particular we call for an immediate end to the isolation imposed upon the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan and all political prisoners in Turkey.

As members of the International Women's Initiative for Leyla Güven, we call on the European institutions, including the Council of Europe (CoE), CPT (Committee for the Prevention of Torture), the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe), the EU to fulfil their legal and political obligations to act against the autocratic regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey is member state of the Council of Europe (CoE), the OSCE and a candidate for membership of the European Union (EU). Unfortunately, neither the CoE nor the EU or OSCE have taken serious steps to halt the spread of authoritarianism in Turkey. This is clearly seen in the silence of CPT and CoE concerning the inhumane acts taking place in Turkey’s prisons.

Our call to the international community:

We call the international community and especially all women to save Leyla Güven‘s life in founding solidarity campaigns and initiatives for her all over the world. Your action will help give support to and express solidarity with all politicians and other prisoners on hunger strike - an act of self-sacrifice undertaken to confront Turkey’s politics of intolerance, exclusion, racism, and refusal to seek a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and the chaotic situation imposed on Middle East. Please support our call by raising awareness in the public opinion through solidarity campaigns and actions and sending letters to your own governments asking them to demand from the Turkish government that the rights of Leyla Güven and Abdullah Öcalan are respected as well as send letters to:


CPT - Council of Europe
F - 67075 Strasbourg Cedex, Tel +33 (0)3 88 41 22 79 Fax +33 (0)3 88 41 27 72

Executive Secretary of CPT, Mr. Regis BRILLAT, E-Mail: [email protected]

Head of Division for Turkey of CPT, Mr. Michael NEURAUTER, E-Mail: [email protected]


Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland
67075 Strasbourg Cedex/France
E-Mail: [email protected] and [email protected]
Fax: +33 388 412 799


European Commision

Federica Mogherini

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy


European Commission
Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200
1049 Brussels

[email protected] and [email protected]


Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe - OSCE

Miroslav Lajčák

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office

Katharina Kandt

Senior Adviser to the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship

Permanent Mission of the Slovak Republic to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna

Office: + 43 1 368 94 33 368

Mobile: + 43 660 11 44 059

[email protected]



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Nora Morales de Cortinas - Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Linea Fundadora, Argentine

Lilian Galan - Deputy from Uruguay, Parliament of ParlaSur

Rita Laura Segato - Anthropologist, Emerita Professor of University of Brasilia

Monica Benicio - Human Rights Defender and comrade of Marielle Franco, Brasil

Ana Maria Falú - National University of Córdoba & Regional Director of UN Women until 2009, Argentina

Ela Gandhi - Peace-Activist, South Africa

Selay Ghafar – Spokesperson-Solidarity Party (Hambastagi) of Afghanistan

Malala Joya - Political activist (former MP), Kabul Afghanistan

Elfriede Jelinek – Writer and Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Austria

Dr. Shirin Ebadi - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2003, Human Rights Lawyer

Arundathi Roy – Writer, Peace and Human Rights Activist, India

Eleonora Forenza - Activist, MEP and member of FEMM EP Committee, Italy

Luisa Morgantini -  former vice president of European Parliament- Italy

Martina Anderson – MEP Sinn Féin and member of FEMM EP Committee

Julie Ward – MEP Labour and member of FEMM EP Committee, Patron Peace in Kurdistan

Prof. Kariane Westrheim - EUTCC chair & University of Bergen, Norway

Radha D‘Souza – Reader in Law, University of Westminster

Margaret Owen - O.B.E lawyer, Patron Peace in Kurdistan. Director widows for peace through democracy

Wendy Lyon - Human Rights Lawyer, Ireland

Colette Níc Alasdair, Sinn Féin Ireland, Representative for Glenravel, Political Advisor to Martina Anderson MEP

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Giuliana Sgrena, Journalist, Italy

Lisa-Marie Taylor, CEO FiLiA, UK

Mithu M. Sanyal, Journalist and Writer, Germany

Margot Müller, Feminist Party DIE FRAUEN, Germany

Gabriele Zimmer, Chair of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left of the European Parliament

Rosamaria Garofalo, Coordinamento 21 luglio, Italy

Maria Flavia Zucco, biologa già Dirigente di Ricerca CNR e  Associazione Donne e Scienza, Italy

Houzan Mahmoud, London based Kurdish feminist campaigner

Nadje Al-Ali, Robert Family Professor of Middle East Studies Brown University, R.I., USA

Debbie Bookchin, journalist, Steering Committee member of the Emergency Committee for Rojava, USA

Dr Sarah Glynn Dundee, Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan, Scotland

Rahila Gupta, Southall Black Sisters, UK

Eleanor Finley, Ph.D. Student, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Institute for Social Ecology, USA

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Victoria Bridges, Aunt of Anna Campbell, Helin Qerecox, UK

Angela Mickley, Prof. for Peace Education, Conflict Resolution and Ecology at Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, Germany

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Enrica Rigo, Associate Professor in Legal Philosophy Universty of Roma Tre, Italy

Federica Giardini, Prof. of Political Philosophy, Dipartiment of Philosophy, Università Roma Tre , Italy

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Liliana Frascat, CGIL (Italian General Confederation of Work), Italy

Francesca Koch, President of the International Women’s House, Italy

Nicoletta Pirotta, President of IFE Italy

Alessandra Mecozzi, President of Culture and Freedom Association, Italy

Nadia Palozza Natolli, President of PinkNetwork Association, Italy

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Giuliana Giusti, Professor of Linguistics, Italy

Susanna Poole, Reader at the Orientale Universitarian Institute, Italy

Angelo Baracca, Professore Università di Firenze (Professor at the University of Florence), Italy

Laura Corradi, Gender Studies and Intersectional Methodology Università della Calabria, Italy

Lia Migale, Writers and University Professor, Italy

Martina Pignatti Morano, Peacebuilding Officer Un ponte per, Italy

Donatella Franchi, Teacher and Artist, Italy

Cecilia Luc, Visual Artist, Italy

Chiaretta Celli, Psychologist, Italy

Valentina Degano, Teacher, Women in Black National Network, Italy

Antonella De Biasi, Journalist, Italy

Monique Agius, Journalist, Malta

Laura Quagliuolo, Editor, Italy

Alba Robustelli, Translator, Italy

Antonella Caforio, Teacher, Italy

Emilia Mostarda, Teacher, Italy

Laura Anania, Teacher, Italy

Nelly Bocchi, Farmacist, Kurdistan Network, Italy

Nicoletta Bernardi, Computer Scientist, Italy

Elena Tonnini, Movimento del Consiglio Grande e Generale, Republica di San Marino