The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) paid a visit to Turkey. However, it did not visit İmralı Prison where Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan has been imprisoned under isolation conditions.
One of Asrın Law Bureau’s lawyers, İbrahim Bilmez, commented on the CPT’s visit and was critical of its stance that involved not visiting İmralı Prison. Bilmez noted that the CPT had visited İmralı Prison between 9-17 May 2019 during the hunger strike that had been staged by over 3,000 prisoners throughout the world, but especially in the prisons of Turkey. He stated that it was thanks to this resistance that Öcalan was subsequently allowed to meet with his lawyers on five occasions before the isolation policy resumed with added intensity.
Referring to the 5 August 2020 CPT report which had demanded that Turkey improved the conditions in İmralı, Bilmez stated that Turkey had, in response, banned Öcalan’s rights to meet with his lawyers and his family.
“The CPT, founded within the structure of the European Council as a mechanism to prevent torture, knows clearly that there is no other prison where such unlawfulness and arbitrary practices are being implemented among the member states”, noted Bilmez. Despite this fact, he noted that the CPT did not take decisive action that applied international law to the system at İmralı. He added that the current situation reflects the nature of relations between international law and politics regarding the ‘Kurdish Question’ and İmralı Prison.
Bilmez also stated that after the CPT report was published, the isolation conditions imposed on Öcalan actually worsened. In addition to this, he pointed out that there is an ongoing hunger strike in prisons in Turkey which protests against the very nature of these ongoing isolation conditions on Öcalan and other violations of human rights in prisons in the country.