Italy must take responsibility for its own court’s decision to grant Abdullah Öcalan asylum, which cannot be revoked, said Italian lawyer Arturo Salerni, who oversaw the process that led to Öcalan’s recognition of his right to asylum in Italy.
🔴Italy must take responsibility for its own court's decision in 1999 to grant Abdullah Öcalan asylum, which cannot be revoked, said Italian lawyer Arturo Salerni.#AbdullahOcalan | #ArturoSalerni | #ItalianGovernment
— MedyaNews (@1MedyaNews) December 1, 2023
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Öcalan, who has been held in the İmralı Island prison in north-west Turkey since 1999, has had no contact with the outside world since March 2021. An international campaign calling for an end to the absolute isolation of Öcalan and urging a peaceful solution to the Kurdish conflict in Turkey was launched worldwide on 10 October.
Italy is one of the centres where the ‘Freedom for Öcalan, A Political Solution to the Kurdish Question’ campaign is being carried out with great interest.
Speaking to journalist Serkan Demirel on the sidelines of the campaign, Salerni said that Öcalan’s isolation was a direct violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Noting that Italy has a special responsibility to act for Abdullah Öcalan’s freedom and to change the conditions of his detention, lawyer Salerni recalled that Italy granted Öcalan asylum in 1999 and that they will urge the Italian government to fulfil its responsibility in this regard.
Öcalan was forced to leave Syria on 9 October 1998 after Turkey massed troops on the Syrian border and threatened to invade if the PKK leader was not deported. After spending four months seeking asylum in several European countries, he went to Kenya, where he was captured on his way from the Greek embassy to Nairobi airport.
From Syria, Öcalan had travelled via Cyprus to Greece and Moscow. On 12 November, accompanied by an Italian member of parliament, he travelled to Italy, where he was arrested on the basis of a German arrest warrant.
After the German government withdrew its extradition request on 23 November, Öcalan was released from house arrest in December 1998 and left Rome in January.
Before leaving the country, the PKK leader had applied for political asylum in Italy. After returning to Turkey and being condemned to death, the Civil Court of Rome granted him the right to political asylum in Italy on the grounds of the violation of the civil and human rights of the Kurdish people by the Turkish government.