Sir: We write to you on International Women's Day to draw your urgent attention to the plight of the imprisoned Kurdish MP Leyla Zana.
It is now more than two years since the shameful sentences were passed against Leyla Zana and six other Kurdish MPs. Failing to secure a death sentence because of national and international protests, the state prosecutor was able to get the court to sentence Leyla to an incredible 15 years in prison.
Leyla Zana was convicted because of her singular devotion to the cause of freedom and peace for the Kurdish people. Despite the threat of torture and persecution, she courageously continued her struggle for a political solution of the Kurdish conflict as well as for recognition of the Kurdish identity and language and the liberation of Kurdish women.
She was the first Kurdish woman MP to be elected, in the city of Diyarbakir, to serve in the Turkish parliament. But her tenure as an MP was cut short when she was arrested by police on 5 March 1994 after the Turkish MPs voted to lift her parliamentary immunity and that of other Kurdish deputies.
World-wide protests from women, including Danielle Mitterrand, as well as appeals, demonstrations and hunger strikes have so far failed to move the Turkish government to release her.
We demand that the Turkish government immediately release Leyla Zana and the other Kurdish MPs and restore their parliamentary immunity. In exchange for one day of provisional liberty for Leyla Zana we declare our readiness to spend the same day in jail in Turkey.
PAULINE GREEN MEP
(London North, Lab/Co-op)
ANITA POLLACK MEP
(London South West, Lab)
CHRISTINE CRAWLEY MEP
(Birmingham East, Lab)
CAROLE TONGUE MEP
(London East, Lab)
Chair of Green Party UK
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