A fresh three-month ban on communications for Abdullah Öcalan went into effect on Wednesday as the execution court in Bursa rejected objections by the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader’s lawyers on Tuesday.
The lawyers had submitted a new request to visit Öcalan on 3 January, Mezopotamya Agency reported, and were informed of a communications ban in force the next day. The court said the ban came upon a disciplinary penalty issued by the administration at the İmralı Island Prison, where Öcalan has been serving a life sentence since 1999.
For the past 23 months, the court cited disciplinary penalties as a reason to reject appeals by Öcalan’s lawyers and family members to visit the island prison that is extremely isolated from the outside world.
With Tuesday’s ban, it is now likely that Öcalan will not be heard from until after Kurdish national celebration of Newroz this year, or possibly until the general elections, which are currently scheduled for June. The PKK leader’s messages, particularly his Newroz letters, have had great impact on Turkey’s Kurds in the past, impacting political attitudes and voting behaviour of the community as a whole.
The most recent communications ban expired on 9 December, after which the lawyers submitted three weekly appeals. All have been rejected, but the lawyers have not been informed why.
The previous disciplinary penalty, issued on 9 September, was finalised on 28 September. Appeals between these dates were also either rejected or left unanswered.
In May last year, the prison administration issued a three month ban on family visits that was extended until September.
Since March 2021, Öcalan and three others, Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Akta and Hamili Yıldırım, have not been able to contact the outside world, and all appeals for visits have faced a similar fate.
September saw the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) hold a surprise visit to İmralı, but it is not known whether the top body met with Öcalan or not.
In an interview on Wednesday, Thomas Schmidt of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) said the CPT visit had been an acknowledgement of “special circumstances” in the prison. CPT’s bylaws allow for unanounced visits in case of special circumstances.
Öcalan’s lawyers are preparing to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).