More than 60 members of the Turkish Parliament from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) called on Thursday for an immediate end to the absolute incommunicado detention of Abdullah Öcalan.
Öcalan, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader, has been held in the Turkish prison island of İmrali since 1999 and denied of any contact with the outside world for more than 31 consecutive months.
🔴 Sixty MPs from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (@hedepresmi) called for an immediate end to the absolute incommunicado detention of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
— MedyaNews (@medyanews_) November 2, 2023
In a press release from the Turkish Parliament, HEDEP MPs also announced a request to the Ministry of Justice for a visit to Öcalan in İmralı.
“We have repeatedly stated that this situation is an inhumane development. We are facing an unacceptable situation from a national and international legal point of view,” said Saruhan Oluç, the deputy leader of HEDEP. “There is no such example anywhere in the world. The only examples of such absolute isolation are Mr Öcalan and the three other prisoners on the island.”
HEDEP MP Cengiz Çiçek stressed that the injustice on İmrali Island is not limited to Öcalan alone. “The unlawfulness in Imrali prison has spread to all other prisons like a cancerous tumour and a malicious movement. This is no accident. That’s why we call Imrali the black hole of justice. It is our duty to fight against this black hole,” Çiçek said.
Çiçek also stressed that Öcalan’s situation is directly related to Kurdish demands for freedom and democracy and is closely linked to the ongoing conflicts in Turkey and the Middle East.
The MPs highlighted the severe restrictions on Öcalan’s communication, such as only two family visits and five lawyer visits allowed since 2011, describing the visits as highly restricted and controlled by the authorities.
Öcalan has been held under severe isolation conditions at İmralı F Type High-Security Prison for 24 years. The last contact with him was a truncated phone call with his brother Mehmet Öcalan on 25 March 2021.
Lawyers and families continue to seek access to Öcalan and the three other detainees on İmralı, with over 450 applications made to both the public prosecutor’s office and İmralı Prison Management since last contact. All these applications have either been ignored or obstructed with unspecified ‘disciplinary penalties’.
Öcalan’s prolonged, heavy isolation has long provoked protests from both Kurdish circles in Turkey and global activists.