The London-based Centre for Kurdish Studies held an online panel session entitled ‘Öcalan and the path to a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem”, Yeni Özgür Politika reports.
Panel speakers included Icelandic politician Ögmundur Jónasson, Christine Blower, a member of the UK House of Lords who was the eleventh General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, trade union member Clare Baker, politician Roza Salih and lawyer Melani Gingell.
Jónasson: Europe has played a significant role in facilitating Turkey’s ‘inviolable regime’
Ögmundur Jónasson, Chair of the Icelandic Parliament’s Constitutional Review Commission and representative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), raised his concerns about Öcalan’s situation: “The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) issued a report in August 2020 calling for an end to the isolation in Imrali Prison in Turkey. Turkey replied to this request by deepening the isolation conditions of the prisoners and even suspended all communication channels after the report. The last phone call permitted was in April 2020. No news has been received since then. Recently, some rumours have been circulating on social media” about Öcalan’s health “and this situation is very dangerous”, he said.
Jónasson also drew attention to the ongoing hunger strikes in Turkey’s prisons. Observing that the Turkish state has become an inviolable regime both inside and outside its borders, Jónasson stated that Europe has played a significant role in facilitating this.
Jónasson: There are ‘examples of European complicity’
Jónasson asserted that pressures and attacks against journalists, academics, women and all dissident sections of society continue. ”The Turkish government has created an inviolable regime”, he said and added that ”the task of the CPT is to investigate and prevent torture in the prisons of 47 EU member states. Turkey has for years faced criticism by the CPT. The CPT visited Turkey in January, but it did not even visit Imrali”, he noted.
Jónasson claimed that outside visits have not raised concerns adequately: ”The UN did not pay sufficient attention to the destruction of the historical Sur district of Diyarbakır (Amed). NATO provided full support to Turkey’s targeting of the Kurds. These are some examples of European complicity”, he said.
Salih: The international community’s silence encourages Turkey
Roza Salih, a Kurdish politician and candidate for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in elections due to be held in Scotland next May, pointed out that the endless attacks against the Kurds are a crime against humanity, and the attacks against the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) represent ‘political ethnic carnage’.
Drawing attention to the isolation imposed on Öcalan, and human rights violations in Turkey, Roza Salih said: “The isolation against Öcalan is used as a method to reduce the voices of all Kurds. The international community’s silence encourages Turkey. The attitudes of countries such as Germany and Britain, by supporting Erdoğan, worsen the current situation”.
Melanie Gingell: Öcalan’s ‘isolation definitely constitutes torture’
Stating that the prison isolation conditions imposed upon Öcalan are unacceptable, lawyer Melanie Gingell, who has been practicing at the bar for over twenty years, asserted that: ”With the isolation conditions imposed on Öcalan, communication with him was cut off. According to the United Nations’ charter, such isolation definitely constitutes torture”.
Chriristine Blower, a member of the UK House of Lords who also leads the Freedom for Öcalan Campaign, sstated that the Turkish state’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention would further increase violence against women. She also concluded that the isolation system in İmralı has spread to the whole country.