Jean-Pierre Restellini, a Swiss forensic doctor and jurist who has visited imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı in 1999, 2010 and 2013 as part of a European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) delegation, shared his experiences and observations on the program ‘Avrupa Gündemi’, broadcasted on Medya Haber, and hosted by Serkan Demirel.
🔴 Jean-Pierre Restellini, a Swiss forensic doctor and jurist who has visited imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı in 1999, 2010 and 2013 as part of a European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (@CoE_CPT) delegation, shares his experiences.#CPT | #Ocalan |… pic.twitter.com/CVmEr8q1j3
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Restellini recounted that during his visits, he established a friendly relationship with Öcalan, who referred to him as “My French Doctor”. He noted that Öcalan was not a victim of violence and was not mistreated by the authorities. However, Restellini expressed concern about the isolation Öcalan is now subjected to, describing the conditions as a severe form of violence.
He also described İmralı Prison as a highly secure facility, which was quickly emptied of its previous inhabitants to house Öcalan. Restellini emphasised the psychological difficulty of enduring long-term isolation, praising Öcalan’s mental strength, which he attributed to the support Öcalan receives from his supporters.
Restellini highlighted that there has been no news from Öcalan for the last 32 months, along with a complete denial of his right to see a lawyer or family, considering such conditions a serious human rights violation. He also touched upon the sensitive nature of CPT’s mandate and the political complexities surrounding the publication of their reports.
Regarding the broader Kurdish issue, Restellini saw a connection between Öcalan’s isolation and the ongoing conflict, suggesting that fear of Öcalan’s potential influence if freed is a factor in his continued detention. He also criticised the listing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) as a ‘terrorist organisation’, questioning the validity and implications of such terms.
Restellini concluded by reflecting on the changes in prison conditions over time, emphasising that if Öcalan’s current conditions are as restrictive as reported, they would constitute unacceptable human rights violations.