A ban on legal visits to Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who is held in a Turkish prison, has been extended for a further six months, Fırat News Agency (ANF) reported on Saturday.
The extension of the ban came to light when an application by Öcalan’s lawyers to visit him was rejected on 29 April. The lawyers were informed that the latest ban had been imposed on 13 April by the Bursa Office of Sentence Execution, but the reason for the ban was not indicated.
The administration of İmralı prison, where Öcalan has been held in solitary confinement for 23 years, and the office of the judge of execution have been taking turns to impose ban orders for years, the former banning family visits through disciplinary actions on seemingly manufactured pretexts, and the latter banning legal visits.
An application for a family visit was rejected earlier, on 29 March, being the 10th in a series of such rejections since 2018, and the last application for a legal visit was rejected on 22 November 2021.
The last time Öcalan had any contact with a family member was on 25 March 2021, when he was allowed a very brief telephone conversation with his brother Mehmet Öcalan. That conversation was abruptly cut off after only a few minutes. The last time Öcalan’s lawyers were able to contact him was in August 2019.
One of the lawyers, İbrahim Bilmez, told Medya News that the authorities ‘didn’t even respect their own laws where İmralı prison was concerned’, and that all the ban orders had been arbitrary and unlawful.
He noted that the practice had been recorded as a rights violation in a report released in August 2020 by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
“Whenever the political administration in Turkey turns to policies of war against the Kurds, this exacerbates policies of isolation. This has been the case for 23 years, and it’s just what we’re going through now.”
A group of lawyers representing Öcalan made an application to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture in February 2022 for urgent action against the severe isolation imposed on Öcalan and three other political prisoners in similar conditions.