Raziye Öztürk from the Asrın Law Office called for an end to the harsh imprisonment conditions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, in her speech at the European Union, Turkey, the Middle East and the Kurds conference in Brussels on Wednesday.
In the speech entitled The Imprisonment Conditions of Abdullah Öcalan: From an Individual Case to the Lawlessness of the Whole Turkey, Öztürk said Öcalan was held in the İmralı island prison in northwestern Turkey since 1999, during which time there had been attempts to poison him.
Öcalan had been “kidnapped in an international conspiracy” in 1999, Öztürk said. The PKK’s founding leader was held in solitary confinement for 10 years and monitored around the clock. The conditions in İmralı were “like the Guantanamo Bay”, Öztürk added, with prisoners completely isolated from the outside world.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the trial in 1999 had been unfair, Öztürk said. According to the lawyer, Öcalan should be allowed to seek retrial. The lawyer added that Turkey’s laws had been amended to include an aggravated life sentence that would be served until death, especially for Öcalan.
Öcalan has also not been allowed to freely meet with his lawyers during his 21 years of imprisonment. Lawyers were not allowed to take notes during the restricted visits, nor take defence documents with them. From 2011 to 2019, Öcalan was only allowed to see his lawyer for a total of 8 years, Öztürk said, and family visits were prevented on arbitrary grounds.
The İmralı Prison should be opened to the public, media, and lawyers of Öcalan and several other PKK prisoners housed therein, she added, calling for an end to harsh treatment of all political prisoners in Turkey.