The Green Left Party has presented a motion to the Turkish parliament on Monday, urging for an on-site inquiry into the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
In their motion, Green Left Party representatives Nevroz Uysal and Cengiz Çiçek highlighted the far-reaching impact of the Kurdish question, with law and the economy being prominent among its effects. They stressed that without addressing the Kurdish question, no solutions could be found for the fundamental issues such as democracy, the rule of law, and poverty in Turkey.
The motion recognised Öcalan’s endeavours to seek a resolution to the Kurdish question through dialogue and the democratisation of Turkey. It acknowledged that these efforts garnered support from the majority of Turkish citizens, leading to the initiation of talks between the government and the PKK, commonly known as the “Peace Process.” Although the peace process commenced in 2013 with Öcalan as the chief negotiator, it only lasted until 2015.
The motion highlighted that while the inhumane treatment intensified following the collapse of the resolution process, the isolation was not solely a consequence of its termination but had persisted since Öcalan’s initial imprisonment in 1999.
Öcalan has been incarcerated for 25 years, and for the past 27 months, he has been in a state of incommunicado. The prolonged imprisonment and extended period of isolation have raised significant concerns, as human rights organisations question Turkey’s commitment to upholding its own domestic laws. Despite Öcalan’s lawyers submitting appeals for visitation twice a week for many years, most of these appeals have gone unanswered.
According to Öcalan’s legal representatives:
Since its establishment, İmralı Prison has aimed to gradually wear inmates down both mentally and physically.
It has been confirmed by European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rulings and European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) reports that the conditions of imprisonment constitute torture.
Right now, the PKK leader still remains imprisoned in a cell-type room in İmralı.
For ten years and nine months, Öcalan was held as the sole detainee in the island prison.
Along with him, there are now three other detainees in the island prison, kept in separate cells.
He was only allowed to meet with them for six hours a week, according to CPT reports from 2016 and 2019.
The other three detainees have not been allowed to see their lawyers even once for 8 years.
Öcalan has had only five meetings with his lawyers in 12 years since 2011, all of them concentrated within a single year; 2019. The last meeting was in August 2019.
During his 24 years in İmralı, Öcalan could use his right to communicate with his family on the telephone only twice.
The first call was in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic at the time. The second call, which came after the social media posts that raised concerns about his life and well-being, lasted only two minutes before the phone disconnected.
Since this last phone call on 25 March 2021, the lawyers and the families have had no information about the conditions of detention or the health of the detainees in the island prison.