In Prison


Leyla Zana is a feminist and a Kurdish activist. She was the first female Kurd to be a member of the Turkish Parliament. Zana is peacefully fighting for recognition of the Kurds by the Turkish government, as well as for their equal rights. She has been awarded for her admirable efforts by numerous worldwide organizations, and is backed by the European Union, Amnesty International, and many members of the United States Congress advocated her release during the Clinton Administration. Zana has tirelessly fought for reforms, not only on paper, but also bettering the day-to-day lives of the Kurds. Leyla Zana is currently in jail.


The treatment of the Kurdish prisoners is intolerable. Zana, who has osteoporosis and a malfunctioning liver, objects to the attacks and intimidation that must be endured by government prisoners, and has rejected medical treatment because of accompaniment to the hospital by soldiers. Leyla Zana has served ten years of a fifteen year sentence, and chose not to leave prison when offered freedom because of her unstable health, but instead to remain until she is found innocent, and her goal true. In the meantime, she has been furthering her studies, as supporters managed to gain her a cell of her own. Zana is learning French to better communicate with leaders such as Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of France's late former president François Mitterrand, and the director and founder of Fondation France-Libertés. Two years were added to her prison term for writing a piece printed in a HADEP (People's Democracy Party, a continuation of the illegal DEP) publication on the Kurdish New Year.


Although according to Turkish law Zana's trial need not be reviewed, having taken place before the law allowing reconsideration of trials was passed, it is presently being reassessed. Leyla Zana does not belong in a jail cell. She should be released, and the fact that the reviewers of her trial did not chose this as their immediate course of action is thoroughly disconcerting. Leyla Zana is an inspiring leader of her people who has persevered, through torture and separation from her entire family, in her struggle for equal rights. We are outraged at the government of Turkey's actions. The world is inspired by the idea that her imprisonment has called attention to her cause, and that more reforms have been made than would have had she been treated justly.