Concerns regarding the health and safety of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan – who has been jailed in Imralı High Security F-Type Prison under strict isolation conditions – have been increasing ever since rumours were spread on social media on 14 March regarding his ‘death’.
Lawyers and the family members of Abdullah Öcalan submitted their applications for an “urgent meeting” with him, but have not yet received any response from the Turkish authorities. Ömer Öcalan, the nephew of Abdullah Öcalan and Urfa MP for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), shared his concerns about Abdullah Öcalan with Mesopotamia Agency.
The Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued a written statement on 16 March stating that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is in “good health” after the increasing allegations relating to his ill-health/’death’ and lack of safety conditions of Öcalan began to spread over social media. Following this statement by the chief public prosecutor, İbrahim Bilmez, one of Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers said: ”We want to see our client in person”.
Ömer Öcalan stated that isolation practices in İmralı Prison had been undertaken for many years and the isolation conditions were getting more intense, day by day. Referring to the allegations that were shared on social media, Ömer Öcalan said: ”We have no faith in the statements of the state: what are they planning to do? The state has the ability to inspect the sources of the controversial posts on social media. When you share a post criticizing the government, the state can arrest you within hours, but regarding the recent claims – no steps have been taken so far”.
‘Why now? Are they trying to prepare the Kurds for something?’
The statement released by the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding the allegations was “insufficient” in many respects, Ömer Öcalan stated. ”If Mr. Öcalan’s rights to lawyer-client meetings and family visits would have been recognised thus far, such rumours would not have created a concern, but we are highly worried with such speculations being made because we have no communication with Mr. Öcalan. What do these claims aim to achieve? Why now? Are they trying to prepare the Kurds for something?”, he said.
“Mr. Öcalan’s rights to be visited by his lawyers and family members have been long denied. We demand the implementation of the law. We demand a visit to see Mr. Öcalan in person. The state should take this issue seriously. Mr. Öcalan is not an ordinary person. As his family, we want to meet with Mr. Öcalan urgently”.
‘Mr. Öcalan supports peace amongst the peoples’
He noted that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) alliance has prevented the Kurds from having a ‘status’ whilst Abdullah Öcalan has expended great efforts to propose a ‘solution’ to the Kurdish problem through democratic means.”Kurds want to breathe, expecially for the past five years”, he said. “Mr. Öcalan supports peace amongst the peoples. He often shared messages and declared a ceasefire in order to solve the Kurdish question in a democratic way. After the dialogue was ended by the state in 2015, the process reached a bottleneck”.
‘If you use Mr. Öcalan’s health condition as a tool, this is unacceptable’
Stating that the health condition of Öcalan is a red line for the Kurds, Ömer Öcalan said: ”You can carry out hostile policies against the Kurds and the politicians who represent them, but if you use Mr. Öcalan’s health condition as a tool, this is unacceptable and this is cheap politics. His family members and lawyers should meet with Mr. Öcalan as soon as possible and the concerns of the Kurdish people should be ended immediately”.
Ömer Öcalan stressed that the nature of isolation on Imralı Island has spread all over Turkey, where isolation of society is taking place. “The isolation policies began with Kurds, but now are being applied to all opponents in major cities in Turkey. Those who remain silent whilst unlawful action is being applied to Mr. Öcalan are now being subjected to isolation themselves. If we eliminate the isolation completely, society will be able to breathe”, he said.
‘Support the struggle against isolation until the isolation is lifted’
Referring to the hunger strikes launched in prisons in Turkey since 27 November last year – that have been protesting against against the Imrali isolation conditions – Ömer Öcalan said: ”The hunger strikes launched in hundreds of prisons against isolation have gone past the 112th day. The prisoners launched such a massive resistance once again to end the isolation imposed on Mr. Öcalan. Everyone from outside should be sensitive to this. They should give voice to the prisoners from where they are, and support the struggle against isolation until the isolation is lifted”.