The family of Veysi Aktaş, an inmate of İmralı prison, has drawn attention to the isolation imposed on prisoners and the lack of action by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). Aktaş’s mother, Faike Aktaş (73), who is unable to meet her son, said her only wish was to see him.
The hunger strike launched by political prisoners on 27 November continues on its 68th day. Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktaş and Hamili Yıldırım are imprisoned in İmralı F-type High Security Prison together with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. Konar, Aktaş and Yıldırım were sent to İmralı as “secretariat” on 15 March 2015 and, as with Öcalan, they have been deprived of their right to meet their lawyers and families.
According to a report by Cengiz Özbasar and Fahrettin Kılıç for the Mesopotamia Agency (MA), 45 applications made by the families of the three prisoners on 3 March 2020 were rejected. Lawyers have been unable to meet their clients since 7 August 2019 and Bursa Chief Public Proscutor’s Office rejected 145 applications made by lawyers.
After he was sent to İmralı Prison, Aktaş could meet his family only three times, on 5 June 2019, 12 August 2019 and 2 March 2020, and he was permitted to use his right to a phone call only once, on 27 April.
Isolation should be removed
Aktaş’s mother Faike said that the meaningless isolation should be ended and prisoners should be allowed to meet their relatives. Deprived of meeting her son for six years, Faike said, “I do not know if he exists or not. Our demand is the removal of Öcalan’s isolation and the restoration of peace. Is there something better than peace? My only wish is to see my son before I pass away”.
Aktaş’s sister Sabiha Aslan said the isolation affected their family as well as the whole world, adding, “We are full of pain. We miss even his voice. I want to see my brother. If visiting is not permitted, his right to a phone call must be permitted at least. We do not know whether the letters we sent were delivered to him. Our concerns are worsened by the coronavirus”.
Reaction to the CPT
When the CPT came to Turkey its representatives did not visit İmralı prison. Aslan said the CPT did not fulfil its duty to Kurds and İmralı. “It has not done anything concrete yet”, she said. “If the CPT comes to Turkey, it must fulfil its task”.
‘This burden belongs to everyone’
Aslan said, “The prisoners’ burden is already heavy. There is a pandemic and it is not fair to leave that burden on prisoners who cannot recover from the affects of the previous hunger strike. This burden belongs to everyone. Democratic parties in Turkey should raise their voice. It is their obligation to fulfil their democratic responsibilty. The burden is heavy and everybody should share it”.