Kurdish women political prisoners tell their stories of struggle in new book

October 9, 2022
Purple Color of Kurdish Politics
Jailed former mayor of Diyarbakir, Gültan Kışanak

A new book edited by jailed former co-mayor of Diyarbakır, Gültan Kışanak, is set to teach the world a lesson about Kurdish women’s determination and resolve when it hits shelves later this year.

The Purple Colour of Kurdish Politics features essays by Kışanak and 22 other Kurdish co-chairs, co-mayors and MPs imprisoned by the Turkish state.

Kışanak and the other writers are among many Kurdish politicians who have fallen victim to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s harsh repression of the Kurdish political movement after peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) collapsed in 2015.

Since then, thousands of members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including mayors, parliamentary deputies and even co-leaders of the party, have been arrested and jailed on terror charges. The AKP says the HDP has strong links to the PKK, which the Turkish state considers a terrorist organisation. But critics say this is a pretext used to disarm one of the strongest rivals of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In 2016, while serving as the co-mayor of Diyarbakır, the largest city in Turkey’s Kurdish-majority southeast, Kışanak was arrested by Turkish authorities and accused of membership of the PKK. She was sentenced to 14 years and 3 months behind bars.

During her stay in Kocaeli F Type Prison, Kışanak edited the book focusing on the experiences of women in prison who took part in local and general politics.

The book generally concentrated on the personal and collective struggles of Kurdish women against patriarchy and their opinions on the ways in which Turkey’s anti-capitalist and socialist movements closely informed their political stances and practices.

The prominent politician had previously been incarcerated in the notorious Diyarbakır prison for two years after the military coup in 1980.

The book was prepared for publication by Ruken Isik, Emek Ergun and Janet Biehl; translated by 24 women who are academics and activists and published by Pluto Books. It is set to hit British shelves in bookshops next month.

[Reprinted from Medya News.]

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