Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan, co-chairs of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), appealed to the Justice Ministry to visit Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı island prison, where the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) founding leader has been serving a life sentence since his capture in 1999.
Öcalan has been held incommunicado for the last 20 months, and has rarely been able to have contact with his family or lawyers in the 23 years he has spent behind bars on charges of terrorism and treason.
HDP Spokeswoman Ebru Günay announced the appeal for the visit, planned to include party co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar, MP Ömer Öcalan, and herself.
“Our co-chairs have appealed to visit İmralı to bring to the public agenda the democratic solution to the Kurdish issue,” Günay said. “Öcalan spent years developing proposals for a solution, and presented those proposals to both the public and relevant authorities during the İmralı talks process.”
“Now, the ideas that would ensure a grand peace among peoples, democratise Turkey, and solve the Kurdish issue have been placed under deep isolation by the government,” Günay continued.
HDP appealed to the Justice Ministry to bring to the public agenda a discussion on solutions and to stand against policies of war. “Everybody knows that periods when channels of meetings and dialogue with Mr Öcalan have been open were times when Turkey could discuss peaceful solution options for the Kurdish issue, and when a culture of democracy rose up,” Günay said.
According to the party, the government has turned policies of war into a means to sustain its hold on power. The first step to maintain policies of war and denial, and to institutionalise fascism was the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government placing Öcalan in isolation, Günay said.
The most recent public contact with Öcalan was when his lawyers met with him on 7 August 2019.
The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) held an unannounced visit to the island prison between 20 and 29 September this year and reported to Turkish authorities its findings, which would be made public if Turkey agrees.
Ahead of the CPT visit, Öcalan was issued another disciplinary penalty, which has been the legal basis cited by prison and ministry officials on why the PKK founder has not been allowed to communicate with his family. The penalty was the 12th of its kind since 2018. On 5 October, Öcalan’s lawyers were refused another appeal to meet with their client.