Prionews – Reuter – AP – dpa – 9.10.2013– Turkey’s outspoken Kurdish rights advocate Leyla Zana, a former Kurdish MP in Turkey. Zana spent a decade behind bars in Turkey for speaking Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament after taking her parliamentary oath. She was the first Kurdish woman to be elected to Turkish parliament. Turkey’s prominent Kurdish rights activist and former lawmaker Leyla Zana is reportedly nominated for the 2013’s Nobel Peace Prize. A Norwegian online opinion poll asks its readers to vote for the most eligible candidate from a short list of ten possible nominees, which Zana is one of them.

On Friday October 11, the Nobel Committee will announce the 2013 winner of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. The selection process is very secretive and only certain people across the globe (professors, elected government officials, Nobel laureates) can nominate an individual or organization.

Zana, who in 1995 won the European Parliament’s Sakharov human rights award, and several other Kurds were elected to Turkish parliament in 1991, but lost their seats in 1994 after their party was outlawed for links with the PKK. Zana spent a decade behind bars in Turkey for speaking Kurdish in the Turkish Parliament after taking her parliamentary oath.

In March 2003, Zana and her co-defendants were allowed a retrial after their original conviction was condemned as unfair by the European Court of Human Rights in 2001. She was released in 2004 after Turkey’s appeals court overturned her conviction.

Zana, the symbol of peaceful strife of the Kurdish people, was granted the Italian honorary nationality in Rome on October 23, 2008.

Zana received a two-year prison sentence from the Diyarbakir 6th High Criminal Court on the grounds of a speech made at the Newroz celebrations in 2007 (traditional Kurdish festival to mark the beginning of the Iranian New Year and the arrival of spring). She was sentenced for saying “The three leaders of the Kurds Jalal Talabani, Massoud Barzani and Abdullah Ocalan”.

Zana stood trial once more under charges of “praising crime and criminals” based on her defence in the case mentioned above. The Diyarbakir 6th High Criminal Court acquitted the politician. Former DEP MP Zana received a prison sentence of one year and three months based on a speech she had given at a seminar held by the School of Oriental and African Studies in London on 24 May 2008. Zana was convicted of “propaganda for an illegal organization”. In her speech, she had likened the PKK and its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan’s importance to the Kurdish people to the importance the brain and heart have to humans. “They have created a new life for the Kurdish people, so that a people that used to be ashamed of its existence gained a spirit of freedom and resistance.”

On 4 December 2008, Zana was sentenced to imprisonment of ten years by the Diyarbakir 5th High Criminal Court under allegations of “spreading propaganda for the PKK” in nine different speeches. The court voiced the opinion that “the defendant’s activities over all reached the dimension of membership of the PKK/Kongra-Gel terror organization”. The decision included Zana’s deprivation of the right to vote and to be elected and several other political rights. 

On July 28, 2009 Zana was sentenced to 15 months in prison for remarks upholding Kurdish PKK rebels fighting the Turkish government. On December 4, 2008 sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for praising PKK

On May 24, 2012, a Turkish court sentenced Leyla Zana to 10 years in prison in absentia for membership of an outlawed separatist group and spreading its propaganda. Leyla Zana was convicted by a judge in southeastern Diyarbakir of having violated the penal code and the anti-terror law in nine different speeches.

On November 15, 2012,  Leyla Zana who symbolises the Kurdish struggle in Turkey has joined hundreds of Kurdish inmates who have been on hunger strike for two months

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported earlier this year that Bradley Manning, jailed in the US on charges of handing over classified documents to Wikileaks, and Kurdish activist Leyla Zana are also among candidates for the prize. Among the nominated organizations is the international vaccine fund GAVI.The Norwegian Nobel Committee has received 259 nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, breaking the record of 241 set in 2011. One of the candidates this year is also the youngest on record, after 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan was nominated for defying the Taliban and getting shot for it.

The Nobel Committee never comments on specific nominees, reporting only the total number and the breakdown of individuals and organizations. This year, according to the committee, 50 of the Peace Prize candidates are organizations.

The total number of nominations will quickly be whittled down to a short list and then cut as well to those candidates who will be seriously considered by the five-member committee that’s appointed by the Norwegian Parliament under the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will. The prize winner is usually announced on the second Friday of October (October 11 this year), and the prize is always awarded on December 10th, the anniversary of the death of prize benefactor and Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel.

List of confirmed and possible nominations

Below is a list of confirmed and possible nominations based on information leaked to the press/web, possibly based on rumours and hearsay. It is by no means complete or assured, but represents a best possible list given the information present at the time of writing. In some cases it is unclear whether the nominator is indeed eligible for nominating. The full list of nominations is kept secret for 50 years.

Malala Yousafzai (multiple nominations, among others by Canadian politicians)

Leyla Zana, Kurdish member of the Turkish Parliament, engaged in nonviolent fight for Kurds’ rights (nominated by Norwegian MPs).

Archimandrite Gervasios Raptopoulos, Orthodox Greek priest aiding prisoners (according to omsgsa.org)

Military Religious Freedom Foundation, US Civil Rights Organization (self-reported)

Susana Trimarco, human trafficking activist (according to voxxi.com)

George Ryan, Illinois Governor opposing the death penalty (nominated by US Professor of Law, Francis A. Boyle, according to countercurrents.org)

Giulio Andreotti, fmr. Italian PM for his role in developing nuclear neutralizing weapon system (Confirmed by US nominator)

UNESCO and its former director, Federico Mayor (Confirmed by Ingeborg Breines, Co-president, International Peace Bureau)

Betty Reardon, peace studies scholar with a lifelong focus on peace education (Confirmed by Ingeborg Breines, Co-president, International Peace Bureau)

Gunnar Garbo, Norwegian peace activist, journalist, politician and ambassador (Confirmed by Norwegian nominator)

Maggie Gobran, founder and head of the Egypt-based charity organization Stephen’s Children (nominated by Norwegian MPs)

Mordechai Vanunu, Israeli nuclear whistleblower (nominated by Norwegian MP)

Lyudmila Alexeyeva (Russia) and Ales Bialitski (Belarus), both Human Rights champions (nominated jointly by Norwegian MPs)

Aminatou Haidar (Western Sahara) and Rebyia Kadeer (Chinese Uyghur), both Human Rights champions (nominated jointly by Norwegian MPs)

Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynaecologist (nominated by Norwegian MP)

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) (confirmed nomination by the International Peace Bureau, and also nominated by Norwegian MPs)

Damas de Blanco [Ladies in White], Cuban nonviolent opposition movement (nominated by members of the US Senate and House of Representatives)

Tore Nærland, founder of Bike for Peace (nominated by Myanmar MP according to Gateway Gazette)

Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo (daughter of previous peace prize nominee Oswaldo Paya) and Movimiento Cristiano Liberación [Christian Liberation Movement], Cuba (nominated by Norwegian MP)

Catholic priest Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly and Buddhist Monk Thich Quang Do, both Vietnamese (nominated by US Congress members)

Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, imprisoned US citizen and WikiLeaks source (nominated by, among others, Icelandic MPs)

Bill Clinton, fmr. US President (according to Times LIVE)

Thein Sein, Myanmar President (according to Times LIVE)

Maryam, Zainab and their father Abdulhadi al-Khawaja (nominated by Portuguese MPs)

Gene Sharp, non-violence scholar (nominated by American Friends Service Committee)

Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia (according to infosurhoy.com)

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church (nominated by Bulgarian MP Lachezar Toshev)

Yank Barry, US philanthropist and musician (nominated by Filipino politicans)

Former United States Senators Richard G. Lugar and Sam Nunn

Reverend Kevin Annett (nominated by a group of North American scholars)

The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research and Jan Öberg (nominated by Christian Juhl, Danish MP)

Richard Falk, Professor and champion of international law (nominated by Professor Ståle Eskeland)

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and David Krieger, disarmament advocates (nominated by Professor Bill Wickersham)

International Peace Bureau (IPB), Nobel laurate of 1910 and still going strong in the strive for peace (nominated by Jan Öberg)

Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons (nominated by Uta Zapf, Chair of the German Bundestag Subcommittee on Arms Control and Disarmamaent)

Steinar Bryn and Nansen Dialogue for their work with peaceful conflict resolution and reconciliation (nominated by Professor Nils Christie)

Inhabitants of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, South-Korea (nominated by Agneta Norberg, Board Member of the International Peace Bureau)

Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey, Guatemalan Attorney General taking charge in prosecuting among others former President Rios Montt for crimes against humanity (nominated by Nobel laureates Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu)

Concerned for Working Children, an Indian NGO working for children’s rights, UNICEF and Save the Children (nominated by three Norwegian MPs)

Vladimir Putin (unclear whether nominator is qualified and whether it was sent in time for the deadline. Nomination reported by The Independent)

Edward Snowden (reportedly nominated in July this year by Swedish Professor of Sociology, Stefan Svalfors, not in time for the 2013 prize. The Nobel Committee may choose to put forth additional candidates at their first meeting after the February deadline, though Snowden’s name did not hit the news until May)