Dozens of political activists were reportedly detained on Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey, as the police moved to obstruct a march planned in protest against the severe isolation imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Züleyha Gülüm, lawyer and MP for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), said that around 80 people were detained, but lawyers were denied contact with the detainees.
“There were arrests today in Kadıköy because we wanted to exercise our democratic right to make a press statement. We are now in front of the Police Headquarters on Vatan Avenue. There are reportedly around 80 arrests, but lawyers are not allowed in.”
“The lawyers have the right to be inside and talk with their clients once there has been an arrest. But even this is not being allowed. This demonstrates the most up-to-date situation regarding justice in this country. We will continue to wait here until lawyers are allowed in.”
Further arrests were reported on Saturday and Sunday in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır (Amed) and the western city of Bursa, where people gathered to join in marches in protest against Öcalan’s isolation.
While 12 people who had been detained in Diyarbakır on Saturday were released on Sunday, several were detained in Bursa on Sunday, including HDP’s Bursa and Gemlik branch officials.
A ban on legal visits to Abdullah Öcalan was extended for a further six months in May. The last time Öcalan’s lawyers were able to contact him was three years ago, August 2019.
An application for a family visit was rejected earlier, on 29 March, the 10th in a series of such rejections since 2018.
The last time Öcalan had any contact with a family member was on 25 March 2021, when he was allowed only a very brief telephone conversation with his brother Mehmet Öcalan. A conversation that was abruptly cut off after only a few minutes.