The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) parliamentary group leader Meral Danış Beştaş on 2 January questioned Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ about restrictions on family and legal visits to Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in absolute incommunicado for 21 months.
Beştaş pointed out that Öcalan and the other three prisoners in İmralı Prison were not allowed contact of any kind with the outside world, including letters, books and magazines, or even talk among themselves, in violation of the Turkish Constitution as well as various international conventions to which Turkey is a signatory, including article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
She noted that in the last 11 years Öcalan has been allowed only five legal visits, and the other prisoners, Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş, who were transferred to İmralı Prison in 2015, have been allowed none at all.
In that last period, none of the prisoners have had more than 5 family visits. And since March 2021 dozens of applications have been made for visits by family and lawyers and all have been rejected or completely ignored.
Beştaş also noted that the European Court of Human Rights had ruled that Öcalan’s life sentence until death was a violation of article 3 of the Convention, as he was left devoid of all hope.
Beştaş requested the publication of data on the rejection of repeated applications submitted by lawyers and family to visit İmralı, and whether the Ministry was aware of these decisions. She asked the Justice Minister whether necessary action had been taken in respect of reports issued by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) on prison conditions. Bozdağ was also asked what action had been taken in response to deadlines imposed on Turkey by the European Council of Ministers, among other issues.
Recently, HDP MPs held a march at the Ministry of Justice calling for Öcalan to be allowed legal visits. Their banners held the slogans, “Apply the law in İmralı”, and “Isolation is a Crime against Humanity”. MP Tülay Hatimoğulları condemned the policy of isolation on all prisoners, and called for Abdullah Öcalan to be allowed family and legal visits forthwith. The march was blocked by police.