A group of lawyers representing Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), appealed to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture for urgent action against the severe isolation imposed on Öcalan and three other political prisoners in similar conditions.
The lawyers for Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş, all incarcerated at the high security prison on the İmralı Island in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey, indicated in their appeal that they have not been able to get any information about their clients for almost 10 months.
The last time Öcalan was able to have any contact at all with someone from outside the prison compound was when he had spoken with his brother Mehmet Öcalan on the 25th of March in 2021, and Mehmet Öcalan had explained how the phone conversation was cut off after only a few minutes.
The lawyers appealed for permission to be able to meet with their clients on 22 November 2021, and that appeal was rejected on grounds that a six-month-ban on visits had been imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan on the 12th of October. The last time the lawyers could contact Öcalan was in August 2019.
An appeal by Öcalan’s family was also rejected due to a seperate three-month-ban issued in August.
The Turkish Constitutional Court ruled 12 January to reject an appeal by the lawyers to contact their clients in İmralı, and informed the lawyers of their decision only on the 31 January. The ruling said that the prisoners in İmralı ‘had access to health services, that there were temporary bans issued on visits by lawyers and family members, and that there were no indications that there were any dangers concerning their lives or their physical or mental integrity because of their incarceration.’
ECHR ruling and CPT report
The European Court of Human Rights said in March 2014 that Turkey had violated the rights of Öcalan both due to the inhumane conditions of his severe solitary confinement, but also due to his being sentenced to life imprisonment without any possibility of conditional release.
Although the Council of Europe’s (CoE) Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) had released a report in 2018 ‘calling upon the Turkish authorities to make sure that all prisoners at Imralı Prison are able to receive visits from their relatives and lawyers’, no implementation has yet been made by the Turkish authorities.