- (1961- )Leyla Zana was the first female ethnic Kurd elected to the Turkish parliament as a member of Halkin Emek Partisi (HEP), or Peoples Labor Party, in 1991. She caused a national sensation and scandal by wearing Kurdish national colors on her headband and declaring that "I take this oath for the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples" when she was sworn in as a member of the parliament.In March 1994, Leyla Zana was one of six members of the De-mokrasi Partisi (DEP) — HEP's successor—who had their parliamentary immunity lifted and was arrested. She was then convicted of disseminating separatist propaganda and supporting or being a member of an armed band, and she was sentenced to 15 years in prison. While in jail, she wrote and published Writings from Prison, chronicling her cause and the hardship she faced campaigning for the Kurdish people. Her case became a cause celebre for Kurdish human rights in Turkey. After great international pressure, she was finally released from prison in 2004. In the following year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish government had to pay her 9,000 euros for violating her rights of free expression.However, in December 2008, she was again sentenced to another 10 years in prison for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda in one of her speeches in which she referred to Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan as one of the three main Kurdish leaders. In July 2009, yet another Turkish court sentenced her to 15 months in prison for declaring in a speech at a conference in London a year earlier that Ocalan was "as important for the Kurdish people as the brain and the soul are for a human being."Leyla Zana received the Rafto Prize for human rights in 1994 and the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought in 1995. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on several occasions. As of this writing, she remains free on appeal and an active speaker for the Kurdish cause. Leyla Zana is married to Mehdi Zana.
Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. Michael M. Gunter.
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Zana, Mehdi — (1940 ) Ethnic Kurdish citizen of Turkey associated with Kemal Burkay in the Kurdistan Socialist Party of Turkey. In 1978, he was elected mayor of Diyarbakir. After the Turkish military coup of September 1980, he was imprisoned for 16 years… … Historical Dictionary of the Kurds
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