The Germany-based European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) has written to Turkey’s Ministry of Justice to demand an end to the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Mezopotamya News Agency reported.
The ELDH, a human rights organisation of lawyers from 21 European countries, held a press meeting in Istanbul, Turkey on 8 November with the Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD) and Öcalan’s representatives from the Asrın Law Office.
Fabio Marcelly, the General Director of Institute for International Legal Studies (ISGI), ELDH Assistant Secretary General Thomas Schmidt, ÖHD co-chair İlknur Alcan and many lawyers from the Asrın Law Office joined the press statement.
Schmidt read out a letter to Turkey’s Ministry of Justice demanding an end to the strict policies imposed on Öcalan preventing visits or phone calls from lawyers or family members.
The PKK leader and three fellow prisoners have been under strict isolation for years, rarely if ever allowed to communicate with the outside world. The last time any of the four men spoke with their lawyers was in August 2019.
Turkey has consistently rejected visitation applications made by the prisoners’ lawyers, citing “disciplinary reasons”.
The ELDH’s letter noted previous applications made by the European Democratic Lawyers rights group and the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), and paid attention to the social and political effects of Öcalan’s isolation.
“The ban on lawyer visits to the İmralı Prison clearly violates the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules) updated in 2015, the recommendations of CPT and Turkey’s Execution Law,” said the letter.
“States have an obligation to ensure detainees and prisoners are able to exercise their rights regardless of their identity and the nature of their sentence,” added Schmidt.
The letter ended with a submission by the ELDH applying to visit Öcalan and other prisoners held in İmralı prison.
A CPT delegation made a surprise visit to İmralı in October after some 775 lawyers from Asrın Law Office urged the committee to take action following a 10 June appeal for “immediate permission” to meet with their client.