Mehdi Zana

Mehdi Zana (born 1940, Silvan) is a former Kurdish politician from Turkey.[1][2]

Mehdi Zana
Mayor of Diyarbakir
In office
Personal details
Political partyWorkers Party of Turkey


Zana started to work as a tailor in Silvan after he graduated from elementary school. In 1963 he became a member of Workers Party of Turkey (TİP). Two years later he became the head of the party's Silvan branch.

In December 1977 he was elected as the first independent socialist mayor of Diyarbakır.[3] As mayor he engaged with other Kurds in the aim to foment a transnational aid network. He encouraged the use of Kurdish language in the city council and the municipality. He undertook various trips to Sweden, France and Germany and in 1979 several socialist-run cities in France sent fifteen trucks and buses to Diyarbakir as gift.[3] After the 1980 Turkish coup d'état he was imprisoned until April 1991. After his release he went to France for medical treatment until February 1992.[4] He was imprisoned again between 1994 and 1995.[5] He was imprisoned for 16 years during his life.[1][2] After his release in 1995, he went to receive the Sakharov Prize in 1996 on behalf of his imprisoned wife, Leyla Zana. Zana and then lived in Sweden[5] and Germany, before at last returning to Turkey in 2004.

After his incarceration he refused to speak Turkish again and only spoke in his native Kurdish language.[citation needed]

Mehdi Zana has been married to politician Leyla Zana since 1975[6] and the couple has two children.[5]


  • Zana, Mehdî (2006). Postal darbelerıyle uyanmak (in Kurdish). İstanbul: Medîsa Eğitim Basım Yayın Reklam. ISBN 978-975-9094-63-8. OCLC 542825389.
  • Zana, Mehdî (2005). Ay dayê. Weşanên Tevn; Roman (in Kurdish). Aksaray, İstanbul: Weşanên Tevn. ISBN 978-975-9094-03-4. OCLC 72801208.
  • Zana, Mehdî (2004). Parastina min (in Kurdish). Stockholm: Evra. ISBN 978-91-87662-51-5. OCLC 84678587.
  • Zana, Mehdî; Vauquelin, André (1997). Prison no. 5 : eleven years in Turkish jails (1 ed.). Watertown, MA, USA: Blue Crane Books. ISBN 978-1-886434-05-9. OCLC 260083915.
  • Zana, Mehdî (1995). Sevgili Leyla : uzun bir sürgündü o gece. Belge Yayınları, 243; Yaşam ve anılar (in Turkish) (1 ed.). İstanbul: Belge Yayınları. ISBN 978-975-344-086-8. OCLC 260193256.


  1. ^ a b "Mehdi Zana" (in Swedish). Stockholm Sweden: Foundation For A Kurdish Library & Museum. January 23, 2010. Retrieved April 25, 2011. At: "KORT BIOGRAFI ÖVER FÖRFATTAREN OCH POLITIKERN MEHDI ZANA"
  2. ^ a b "Mehdi Zana, a voice from behind the bars". The Middle East Magazine. Tel Aviv: Middle East Magazine Ltd. May 1996. OCLC 32187870. Retrieved April 23, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Watts, Nicole F. (2011-07-01). Activists in Office: Kurdish Politics and Protest in Turkey. University of Washington Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-295-80082-0.
  4. ^ "UA 108/92 - TURKEY: MEDICAL / HEALTH CONCERN: MEHDI ZANA" (PDF). Amnesty International. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "Background Information - 08-10-2004". Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  6. ^ "TURKEY : Leyla Zana, the only Kurdish woman MP". The Middle East Magazine. Tel Aviv: Middle East Magazine Ltd. October 1993. OCLC 32187870. Retrieved April 25, 2011.

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