Politician, Diyarbakır deputy. She was born in Bahçeköy, Silvan, Diyarbakır on May 3, 1961. She was married to Diyarbakir Mayor Mehdi Zana (1975), her cousin and son of an important family within the region when she was fourteen. Mehdi Zana was arrested after September 12, 1980 military coup and was put in prison. Leyla Zana has to follow her husband for fourteen years during his life at several prisons in Diyarbakır, Aydın, Afyon and Eskisehir. During one of her visits, she was arrested in the prison and sentenced. She learned to write and read in Turkish in the prison. She worked as the Diyarbakir regional representative of Yeni Ülke newspaper. She took part in Human Rights Association Diyarbakir Branch in 1989. She attended examinations and received her primary, secondary and high school diplomas.
Leyla Zana actively participated in the rights struggle of Kurdish politics in Turkey. She was engaged in politics and elected as Diyarbakir Deputy in 19th Period TGNA Elections (October 20, 1991- December 24, 1995) from the list of Social Democrat Populist Party (SDPP) and from the contingent of People's Labor Party (PLP). During the oath ceremony on November 6, 1991 for the new legislative period; she had a hair band consisted of the symbolic colors of Kurds: green-yellow and red. She completed her Turkish oath with a Kurdish sentence "Ez vé sondé li ser navé gelé kurd û tirk dixwînim” (I make this oath for the fellowship of Turkish and Kurdish people). She became the focal point of reactions after the oath ceremony.
Because of the reactions that started in TGNA General Assembly; she left SDPP and joined the newly established Democracy Party (DEP). After a voting in TGNA in 1994; the impunity of Zana and other DEP deputies were lifted, and they were arrested and put into prison. Soon afterwards, DEP was closed by Constitutional Court. Zana and other DEP Deputies were imprisoned for 15 years with the accusation of being the member of illegal organization.
Leyla Zana was in prison between March 17, 1994 and June 8, 2004; and she had the support of many peace institutions and human rights civil society platforms both inside and outside of the country. Her letters from the prison were first published periodically in a newspaper, and then printed as a book. Zana was released in 2004 and she started to work on "Democratic Society Movement". She was among the founders of Democratic Society Party (DTP) in 2005. After her freedom, she was deprived of her political rights, including electing and being elected. She is on trial with a request of 55 years imprisonment because of her nine different speeches.
She was elected as Diyarbakir Deputy again in the elections for 25th Period of TGNA (June 12, 2011- ) as independent deputy. Leyla Zana lived in Diyarbakir until that time and she returned to Ankara as a parliament member, 17 years later. She is married and mother of three children.
REFERENCE: Information from herself (November 2012), TBMM Albümü 3. Cilt 1983-2010 (2010), TBMM Albümü 25. Dönem (tbmm.gov.tr, 18.11.2016), 24 yıl sonra yeniden: Leyla Zana’nın milletvekilliği düşürüldü