The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (OHD) recently organised a petition campaign demanding that the isolation conditions of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan should be lifted.
Signed by 770 lawyers from Turkey, the OHD has been calling for solidarity in its campaign. The OHD’s Van Branch member Cahit Ertan told MA that the isolation conditions imposed on Öcalan has an impact on all other prisons in Turkey.
“An island was turned into a ‘special isolation’ for him. He is not allowed to meet with his lawyer or with his family. The purpose is to completely isolate Öcalan from society”, he said.
Referring to previous hunger strikes that were undertaken to address his isolation conditions, Ertan said: “As a result of the hunger strikes, the isolation was partly broken. There were negotiations between 2013 and 2015. Four other prisoners were sent to Imralı as a consequence. But later on, the government gained the power to form a government by itself and deepened the isolation of Öcalan”.
Ertan emphasized that the isolation conditions imposed on Öcalan have no legal basis in national and international law. “International institutions often criticise this isolation practice, yet this isolation policy continues. All applications issued by his lawyers to meet with him keep being rejected despite the lack of legal grounds for this”, he said.
The petition represents “a call for all democratic groups in the country to act within the rule of law, as well as a step towards lifting the political blockage that exists”. This initiative needs to be enlarged. Öcalan should be allowed to be visited by his lawyers, his family members and monitoring groups”.
The OHD lawyer stated that intimidation policies reign in Turkey now and the path of democratic politics has been blocked. The only way to overcome such a “deadlock in politics” is via a solution of the ‘Kurdish question’, he concludes.
“The path to democratic politics has to be opened. The only way to do that is to solve the Kurdish question via negotiations. And the way to such a solution goes through Öcalan and Imralı Island. That is why we repeat our call for the isolation of Öcalan to be lifted”, he said.
Describing the petition as “a call to bring the country to the democratic line”, Ertan said: “It is also a step to overcome the political deadlock. All opposition parties and everybody struggling for democracy should embrace our call. This campaign shall be spread and Öcalan shall be able to meet with his lawyers, his family members and monitoring groups”.
Ertan concluded by stating that the “political system in Turkey is blocked and society is being controlled through intimidation policies. This situation creates the feeling of fatigue in people. Therefore, the political blockage should be eliminated. The only way is for the resolution of the Kurdish problem through negotiation. The way to a solution also goes through Öcalan and İmralı. Therefore, we renew the call for the isolation on Öcalan to be lifted as soon as possible”.