The crisis and future of democracy in Turkey and the Kurdish Levant Keynote speaker: Leyla Zana

Free Word Centre (Fritt Ord), Uranienborgveien 2, Oslo

Free entrance

We invite to a free public seminar on the crisis and future of democracy in Turkey and the Kurdish Levant. 

Keynote Speaker: Leyla Zana



Leyla Zana was the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Turkish Parliament in 1991. Her decision to give the Parliamentary Oath in Kurdish led to immediate calls for her arrest. This was the first time Kurdish had been spoken in the Turkish Parliament. When the Democracy Party (DEP) was banned by the Turkish government in 1994, her parliamentary impunity was lost and she was arrested, along with five other DEP deputies. She was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released in 2004 due to international pressure, having suffered through weeks of hunger strikes in protest against her imprisonment. She received the Rafto Prize in 1994 and the Sakharov Prize the following year. Since her release, Leyla Zana has continued to work for a peaceful political solution to the long and violent conflict, the end to extra-judicial killings, political imprisonment, and detentions without trial, and to protect the rights of the Kurdish People to speak and educate their children in their own language. She was re-elected to parliament in the June 2011 elections and is member of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). She is now a member of the parliament for the People’s Democratic Part (HDP).


Cengiz Çandar: Visiting Scholar at the Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies (SUITS), commentator on Turkey, Kurdish issues, and Middle East affairs in international newspapers

Alp Toker: Founder and Director of media freedom watchdog Turkey Blocks. 

Beate Ekeløve-Slydal, Political Adviser for Amnesty International Norway

Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal:  Deputy Director and spokesperson of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee

Kariane Westrheim: Chair of the EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC), Professor of Education and Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen.

Jan Bojer Vindheim: Green Party representative in Trondheim, editor and political writer and poet. 

More about the speakers 


Means of contact Contact details
10:00 Session 1: The future for freedom of speech in Turkey
12:00 Lunch break
13:00 Session 2: Opportunities and risks for democratic governance in the Kurdish Region after ISIL
15:00 Session 3: Roundtable discussion: Norway in the Levant (Discussion in Norwegian: Hvilket ansvar har Norge for å fremme minoriteters demokratiske rettigheter i Tyrkia og demokratisk organisering i tilgrensende kurdisk-dominerte områder? Hvilke virkemidler kan og bør tas i bruk for å sikre at dette ansvaret blir ivaretatt? Vi inviterer en gruppe norske politikere til diskusjon av disse spørsmålene.
16:00 End seminar


Iver Ørstavik

Picture of Iver Ørstavik
The Rafto Foundation, Senior Advisor
Means of contactContact details
Phone:+47 47096755