14 Facts About Leyla Zana


Leyla Zana was born on 3 May 1961 and is a Kurdish politician.


Leyla Zana was imprisoned for ten years for her political activism, which was deemed by the Turkish courts to be against the unity of the country.


Leyla Zana was awarded the 1995 Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament but was unable to collect it until her release in 2004.


Leyla Zana was awarded the Rafto Prize in 1994 after being recognized by the Rafto Foundation for being incarcerated for her peaceful struggle for the human rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey and the neighbouring countries.


Against Mehdi Leyla Zana have been pressed charges for publishing poetry in the Kurdish language.


In 1987, Leyla Zana was arrested for the first time for two months for taking part in a rally against torture.


In 1991 Leyla Zana was elected to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey on behalf of the Social Democratic People's Party.


Leyla Zana created a scandal when she spoke Kurdish on the floor of the parliament after being sworn in, even though it was known to be illegal.


Only in that year, 1991, was the Kurdish language finally legalized, though speaking Kurdish remained illegal in public spaces, as Leyla Zana was sworn in.


The treason charges were not put before the court, and Leyla Zana denied PKK affiliation; but with the prosecution relying on witness statements allegedly obtained under torture, Leyla Zana and the others were sentenced to 15 years in prison.


In December 2008, Leyla Zana was sentenced to another 10 years in prison by the Turkish court.


Leyla Zana was re-elected to Parliament in the 12 June 2011, and on 1 July 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Leyla Zana in his office.


Leyla Zana's words were criticized as 'naive' by the BDP leadership, but were welcomed by the Turkish government.


Leyla Zana was re-elected in June 2015, and the snap elections of November 2015.