Leyla Zana takes her parliamentary oath in Kurdish
The Kurdish prominent of lawmaker, Leyla Zana defied custom on Tuesday, changing some of the words while reciting her parliamentary oath, 24 years after she insisted on taking her oath in Kurdish and earning herself a long jail term.
Before taking her oath at the lectern, Zana cheered "Biji Aşiti," a Kurdish expression for "Long live peace."
Zana, who won a seat from the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP), also changed the wording of the oath to "the nation of Turkey" instead of the "Turkish nation."
The Republican People's Party's (CHP) Deniz Baykal, who was presiding over the assembly as the acting speaker, asked Zana to recite the oath statement once again, but Zana refused. Her oath was declared nullified.
"I take this oath for the brotherhood between the Turkish people and the Kurdish people," she had said, earning herself a 10-year prison term by the Turkish government.
Tuesday’s oath taking was for MPs who won seats in the November 1 snap elections – held after polls in June failed to grant any party enough seats to form a government.
Zana became a symbol of free speech across the world after serving 10 years in prison for speaking Kurdish while taking her parliamentary oath in 1991. She was ultimately released in 2004 and once again became an MP after the June 2011 elections, although a ban remained in place preventing her from joining the country’s then-main Kurdish party, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).