Seven members of an international women’s delegation from different European countries and backgrounds, including lawyers, politicians, environmentalists and members of civil society organisations, concluded their visit to Diyarbakır (Amed) and Istanbul with a press conference on Friday. The delegation firmly called for an end to the ongoing isolation in İmralı Island prison and the immediate release of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
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The press conference, which was attended by members of the delegation, the Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD), Asrın Law Office, Ceylan Akça (Member of Parliament, Peoples’ Equality and Democracy [DEM] Party) and legal experts, featured a banner with the slogan “Isolation is a crime against humanity”.
Eva Schonveld, a member of the delegation from Scotland, read out the observation report prepared during the visit, which highlighted the systematic violation of the fundamental rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey and the harsh conditions of Öcalan’s isolation.
“Prolonged and continuous isolation is a cruel form of torture and this is what is happening in Turkey,” said Schonveld, stressing that these practices are prohibited by international law and treaties. The delegation expressed solidarity with the political prisoners in Turkey who have been on hunger strike for 19 days in protest at these conditions.
Schonveld condemned the use of terrorism charges as a tool for ethnic cleansing against what she called the political will of the Kurdish people. She criticised European countries for succumbing to Turkey’s pressure and labelling the PKK a terrorist organisation. The delegation also expressed concern about the increasing violence against Kurdish women.
“We carry your stories in our hearts,” Schonveld told the mothers who had lost their children to state violence or imprisonment, praising their dedication and courage in seeking justice.
The delegation concluded the press conference by expressing their unwavering support for the call to end the isolation of Öcalan and political prisoners. They called for respect for human rights and the immediate cessation of repressive practices against the Kurdish people in Turkey.