Abdullah Öcalan’s legal representatives at the Asrın Law Office have appealed to the Council of Europe’s anti-torture body for an immediate visit to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader at the İmralı Island Prison where he has been serving a life sentence since 1999.
Öcalan and the three other PKK executives serving prison sentences alongside him, Hamili Yıldırım, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş, have been in a consistent state of incommunicado, the lawyers told Mezopotamya Agency.
The PKK leader and executives have been under strict isolation for years, rarely allowed to communicate with the outside world. The last time either one of the four men spoke with their lawyers was 17 months ago, on 7 August 2019.
The İmralı prison regime is “in systematic violation” of the prohibition of torture, lawyers said.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) was informed of the visitation ban preventing Öcalan from communicating with his family or lawyers. The lawyers’ report shows 21 family visitation requests, alongside 40 requests for lawyers’ visits, between 1 April and 31 August 2022 that were either not responded to or outright rejected.
Asrın lawyers also informed the CPT of their 10 June appeal for “immediate permission” to meet with their client, based on the prohibition of torture. This appeal was signed by 775 lawyers, including chairs of several bar associations, but remained unanswered by the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and the İmralı Prison Administration.
Öcalan had been issued a visitation ban that would end on 22 April, immediately after which the lawyers appealed to visit. The lawyers were denied their request without justification, only to be belatedly informed that a new ban had started on 13 April, upon another penalty.
Lawyers also added that penalties banning family visits were doled out arbitrarily.
The appeal to the CPT called for:
-Urgent in-person visit by the committee to the İmralı Island.
-Immediate permission for lawyers to visit their clients, and to sustain the practice.
-An end to unlawful court orders preventing visits.
-Permission for family and guardian visits, in a sustained manner. An end to arbitrary disciplinary penalties to prevent this.
-Reinstatement of routine phone calls for Öcalan and others.
-Lifting restrictions on letters, faxes, etc.
-Lifting restrictions on journals, newspapers or books.
-Implementation of the ban on torture and inhuman treatment, the lifting of the incommunicado status, and the regular procedures as required by the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.