Lawyers published report on Kurdish leader Öcalan

Lawyers published report on Kurdish leader Öcalan

Asrin Law Office has issued a report on the isolation regime Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan has been subjected to virtually since his arrest, on 15 February 1999.

The report, covering 6 month detention, was presented in a meeting held at the Istanbul offices of the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği – İHD).

The report examined the Constitutional Court and the ECHR appeals and the CPT’s approach to Öcalan’s case. It also stressed that even the slightest contact with Öcalan would change the atmosphere in the country for the better. The lawyers called on the public to “show their democratic opposition and demand the removal of the isolation regime in Imrali”.

What the report says

The report underlined that “Since 27 July 2011 – date of the last visit conceded to Öcalan’s lawyers – the numerous appeals requesting new visits have been rejected. Up until 15 July 2016, requests for visit made twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays, have been rejected on “excuses”, such as “bad weather” or “technical problems with the boat”.

Along with the lawyers and the family, an international committee conformed by European Parliament MPs, unionists, academics and human rights activists from various countries also asked to the Ministry of Justice permission to visit the Imrali Prison on February 17-18-19. Their request remains unanswered.

What is effectively a ban to lawyers’ visits, entered its 7th year in 2017.

HDP deputy Berdan Öztürk has sent a written petition to the Ministry of Justice asking him to explain the ban.

His petition was answered back in January 2017. The Ministry said that Öcalan “is able to meet with his lawyers as part of his right to legal aid and right to defense, like other convicts, but occasional problems with the boat or bad weather conditions could make it hard to reach the prison. There are therefore obstacles on meeting with his lawyers, family and guardian.”

According to the lawyers, this answer exposes the isolation and confirms the fact that the government wants to keeps the Imrali reality unknown to the public opinion.

CPT strange silence

Throughout the isolation Öcalan has been subjected to, lawyers have regularly visited and sent information to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, a body of the Council of Europe with authority to visit prisons in Member States (and Turkey) and report any rights violations they may find.

The CPT most recent visit to Imrali Prison was on 28-29 April 2016, but contrary to what happened after the 6 previous visits, the Committee still hasn’t published its report detailing findings and suggestions. Fifteen months have now passed since that visit and Öcalan’s lawyers find it hard to understand why the CPT keeps silent.

It is unconceivable – the lawyers said – that the CPT, having in the past identified many rights violations in the Imrali Prison and having suggested many solutions to overcome them, is today silent, thus contributing to the information blackout.

Concerns for the health and safety of the prisoners in the Imrali Prison increased after the 15 July 2016 failed coup but no information have been released. The CPT had been visiting many detention centers in Turkey between 29 August and 6 September 2016 and 10-23 May 2017. Israeli was not included in the latest round of visits, which increased concerns.

Situation in Imrali follows country’s policy of chaos and war

In their conclusions the lawyers underlined that conditions in Imrali have worsened every time repression against Kurds increased.

Today there are unmistakable parallels between the country’s politica situation and what is going on in Imrali. On the one hand, the country is going through a period of chaos and conflict, while on the other Imrali is more than never suffering from a communication blackout and any contact is prevented.

The lawyers insisted that even the smallest contact with Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan helps creating a better atmosphere throughout society.

Öcalan was indeed strongly reaffirming his efforts for peace. He did so during the most recent visit he had with his brother, back on 11September 2016.


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