Kurdish Aspect covers issues related to Kurds and Kurdistan within the larger context of Middle Eastern concerns. The website offers readers a treasure of information as a useful guide to know how others view the Kurds. Kurdish aspect is proud that a significant number of contributors who have a deep understanding and experience in Kurdish history, culture and politics constantly write for the website. Kurdish Aspect also publishes the quarterly Kurdish Aspect Magazine."> Layla Zana, destined to be a leader!



July 28, 2011

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Layla Zana, destined to be a leader! 

SaraJun Magazine - By Sara Mazloumsaki

Every month we introduce you to a women in media that you should get to know. Their stories are inspiring and informative. This month we decided to introduce you to Layla Zana, a MP in turkish parliament because her life story is not only inspiring but also story of a women who beats all odds against to become who she is today.

Leyla Zana was born in 1961 in western of Turkey ( Diyarbak?r Province) to a kurdish family, four sisters and one brother. She was only 14 when her father married her to her 35 years old cousin against her will. He was a political activist and the mayor of Diyarbak?r. In an interview in 1994 she explained how she was married and mother of a child but still didn't have a voice. She discovers her voice five years into her marriage when he was arrested and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Now mother of a son and pregnant on her daughter, finically not independent but had to stand on her feet and take care of her children. During those years when she was going to the prison to visit her husband she became more and more socially awake and start to educate herself and finally stand up for injustice in society for women and her ethnic heritage.

She got her big political break in 1991 when she was elected as the first Kurdish women into Turkish parliament, her success was short lived because in 1994 she was stripped from her parliamentary immunity for speaking Kurdish while taking the oath of office.

Reportedly when she took the oath, she said "I swear by my honor and my dignity before the great Turkish people to protect the integrity and independence of the State, the indivisible unity of people and homeland, and the unquestionable and unconditional sovereignty of the people. I swear loyalty to the Constitution. I take this oath for the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people.

She spoke the final sentence of the oath in Kurdish: "I take this oath for the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people." This started an scandal in Turkey at that time because the Kurdish language had been illegal for decades in Turkey but 1991 the Kurdish language finally became legalized, though speaking Kurdish remained illegal in public spaces. She was also charged of links to PKK or The Kurdistan Workers’ Party that she denied. In her sentencing she denied the allegation and said " I have defended democracy, human rights, and brotherhood between peoples. And I’ll keep doing so for as long as I live."

In prison she was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and awarded by Amnesty International, the Bruno Kreisky Award, the Rafto Prize, and the Sakharov Prize by the European parliament. While in prison she published a book titled "Writings from Prison". Many Humans rights group fought for years her released. Even in 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Turkey after a review of her trial; although Turkey did not recognize the result and finally in June 2004 the Turkish High Court of Appeals ordered Zana's released.

Recently in an interview to BBC's Jonathan Head " I asked if she ever felt bitter. No, she said, that is unhealthy."

Leyla Zana is one of the most well known Kurdish women in the world. She is the first kurdish women to be elected to the Turkish parliament in 1991 and now twenty years later after 20 years of struggle re-elected again. Just Iast month on the June 12th as an independent she entered the Turkish Parliament again. She is an advocate for women, democracy and kurdish people. Congratulations Layla Zana!.

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