In a recent interview with Medya Haber TV’s Erem Kansoy, Fazela Mohammed, a fellow fighter of the late Nelson Mandela, voiced strong criticism of the Turkish government’s treatment of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. Mohammed argued that the government’s fear of Öcalan’s ideas is the driving force behind the stringent measures of absolute isolation imposed on him.
Mohammed specifically called on Europe, with a particular emphasis on the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), to take decisive action regarding Öcalan’s dire situation of absolute incommunicado detention. Citing the CPT’s legal responsibility to combat torture, Mohammed condemned the organisation for its failure to even issue a statement condemning Öcalan’s isolation.
“We are urging the European countries to not just talk the talk of human rights, but to act in a way that fundamentally entrenches human rights everywhere in the world,” Mohammed asserted.
According to Mohammed, Turkey’s implementation of harsh isolation practices highlights a governance system worse than those of even the most brutal regimes in the world. Comparing the situation to Mandela’s incarceration during the apartheid regime, Mohammed pointed out that even then, Mandela was allowed to meet with his lawyers and family, unlike the aggravated isolation experienced by Öcalan. Mohammed emphasised that such absolute isolation qualifies as torture, as defined by international law.
Öcalan’s case has long been a source of controversy and concern. Öcalan has been held in solitary confinement on İmralı Island since his arrest in 1999. He has been denied access to his lawyers and family members, with all forms of communication strictly controlled by the Turkish authorities and held completely incommunicado for over two years.
The international community has repeatedly raised concerns about Öcalan’s isolation, urging the Turkish government to comply with human rights standards and allow independent monitoring of his conditions of detention. However, despite these appeals, the Turkish government has continued to enforce stringent measures that prohibit Öcalan’s contact with the outside world.