24 years after, Kurdish lawmaker Leyla Zana stripped of her status again

by The Region    


The Turkish parliament on Thursday stripped a Kurdish lawmaker of her status for a second time, this time due to her absence from its sessions, parliamentary sources said.

Leyla Zana had spoken Kurdish while being sworn into parliament in November 2015, leading the speaker to rule her oath invalid. 

"With the hope of an honourable and lasting peace," Zana had said in Kurdish while taking the oath. She had also finished it by changing its official wording of "Turkish people" to "people of Turkey."

Speaking Kurdish was banned in Turkey after the 1980 military coup until 1991, and some other restrictions have since been eased. Members of Zana's People's Democratic Party (HDP) party say there is no law stating that Kurdish cannot be used in an oath.

A majority vote in the parliament on Thursday ruled in favour of ejecting Zana from legislature due to her continued absence.

She had won a seat in the November 2015 snap elections, which were held in the wake of the renewed conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, following the collapse of a ceasefire.

"Leyla Zana being stripped of her lawmaker status is void before our people," the HDP said in a tweet following the decision. "Leyla Zana is the sound of peace, the will of the people, our member of parliament."

In June 2015, the HDP had also won seats in parliament as a party for the first time, depriving the ruling AKP of a majority. 

Zana rose to prominence in 1991, causing an uproar in Turkey's parliament by speaking in Kurdish at her oath-swearing ceremony.

The speech prompted parliament to strip her of her immunity and eject her from the legislature. It was used as evidence against her when she and three other MPs, elected as independents, were jailed in 1994 for links to the PKK. They were freed in 2004.