BRITISH actor Maxine Peake today (Tues) launches the Peace in Kurdistan “Letters for Leyla” campaign encouraging people to send messages of solidarity to jailed Kurdish politician Leyla Guven and raise awareness of her plight.

The former Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP was jailed for 22 years and three months on trumped-up terrorism charges in Turkey in December and Ms Peake has joined PIK urging people to join the mass letter writing campaign.

PIK is calling for people to send letters and cards with messages of support and solidarity to Leyla on 25 January.

Messages can be translated from English to Turkish/Kurdish by sending them to

Once the translated message has been received supporters are asked to take photographs and/or videos of themselves writing their messages and post to social media on January 25 using the hashtag #LettersForLeyla.

Speaking on today’s campaign launch Ms Peake said: “I had the great honour of meeting Leyla Guven in her home during her epic hunger strike of February 2019. I was struck by her wealth of compassion, humanity and strength even as she lay extremely weak and vulnerable from the effects of her protest.

“Leyla has been described as the embodiment of the Kurdish women’s resistance and this is very much why she has been targeted.

“Leyla’s fight is the fight of Kurdish women but also it is a battle that concerns the whole of humanity. She has sacrificed her liberty for the freedom of the Kurdish people. We must all unite to demand her immediate release.

“I am joining the campaign which is starting with cards and letter writing, to send a message of hope and solidarity to Leyla so she knows she is not alone. I hope you too will join me.”

It is the first in a series of activities as PIK presses for freedom for Leyla Guven.

Letters can be posted to Leyla Guven, E Tipi Cezaevi, Atasehir Mahalessi, ELAZIG, Turkey.



Notes to Editors.

  1. The Peoples’ Democratic Party is Turkey’s fourth largest political party with 56 lawmakers in the country’s parliament
  2. Leyla Guven was jailed for 22 years and three months on December 21 in what is widely regarded as a political decision by the Turkish government.
  3. According to the HDP latest report some 20,000 of its members have been detained since 2016 of which 10,000 have been jailed including hundreds of elected officials and MPs, including former co-chair’s Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

More than 50 of its elected mayors have been dismissed and replaced by government trustees with the party warning of a “political genocide” against Kurds.

  1. Leyla Guven was jailed for making anti-war comments in January 2018 and led a hunger strike in protest at the isolation of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

She was visited by an international delegation including Ms Peake, Sinn Fein MP Martina Anderson, TSSA union General Secretary Manuel Cortes and Unite Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke/

The hunger strike ended in May 2019 when Mr Ocalan was granted access to his lawyers for the first time since 2011.