International law organizations have taken action for the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is currently held under heavy isolation in İmralı F Type High-Security Prison.
European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights (ELDH), Lawyers for Lawyers and European Democratic Lawyers (AED), European Committee for the Prevention of Torture ( CPT) applied to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture for İmralı, which Asrın Law Bureau had applied to before and asked it to take action. In the application, the CPT was requested to take urgent action to arrange a visit to İmralı Prison and arrange for lawyers to meet with their clients in isolation.
On-site investigation requested
The application stated that the lawyers of Asrın Law Office were prevented from meeting with their clients in İmralı by the government, pointing to the 5 April Lawyers’ Day. Law organizations that asked the CPT to conduct an on-site investigation also reiterated the campaign launched on 26 May 2021, with the signature of 768 lawyers, including members and managers of various bar associations, legal organizations and human rights organizations.
Preventing lawyer meeting
In the application, which emphasized that Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş, who were held in the İmralı F Type High-Security Prison, were unlawfully prevented from meeting with their lawyers, it was underlined that lawyer visits had been prevented since 7 August 2019. In the application, it was also reminded that Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş had not had a single meeting with their lawyers since they were transferred to İmralı Island in 2015.
Isolation imposed since 1999
Underlining that discriminatory isolation has been implemented in İmralı Prison since 15 February 1999, the application states, “The ban on meeting with a lawyer continued uninterruptedly for 8 years from 27 July 2011 to 2 May 2019. 5 lawyer visits took place in 2019. After the last lawyer’s visit on 7 August, 2019, the permanent ban resumed.”
10 seperate visits by the CPT so far
The application points out that the CPT has carried out ten separate visits to İmralı Prison since 1999. The severe isolation in İmralı Prison is also mentioned in the report published by the CPT on 5 August 2020 regarding its visit to Turkey between 6-17 May 2019.
No change in prison conditions despite the CPT report
In the application, which underlined that the blocking of visits by family and lawyers has been aggravated as stated in the CPT’s report, it was noted in the application that while improvements were expected in line with the recommendations outlined in the CPT’s report in İmralı Prison, new disciplinary punishments and prohibition decisions were made by the Execution Judge.
The application also drew attention to the news about PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan shared on digital media accounts on 14 March 2021. It was emphasized that these allegations caused serious public concerns. In the application, which states that Abdullah Öcalan made a phone call with his brother Mehmet Öcalan on 25 March 2021, following the news, it was stated that it only lasted 4-5 minutes, and it was recorded that Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş did not meet with their families.
International law is violated
The application emphasized that the leader of the PKK wanted to meet with his lawyers before the phone was cut off. In the application, “The prohibition of visiting a lawyer to İmralı Prison clearly violates the United Nations (UN) Minimum Standard Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), recommendations of the CPT and Turkey’s Law on Execution (Law No. 5275) updated in 2015. States have an obligation to ensure that detainees and convicts exercise their rights, regardless of their identity and the nature of their sentence,” and the CPT was asked to visit İmralı Prison as soon as possible.