The imprisonment of Turkish journalist Merdan Yanardağ, who criticised the harsh isolation conditions in İmralı Island Prison, has ignited a debate about the criminalisation of speaking out against isolation in Turkey.
In response to this ongoing discussion and the government’s crackdown on dissent, the Lawyers for Freedom Association (ÖHD) have launched a series of articles on isolation, published weekly in the column titled “The Voice of Defence“.
The third article in this series, titled “İmralı Isolation and its History,” was published on Monday in the Yeni Yaşam newspaper. It sheds light on the complete isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Written by Eren Keskin, a prominent human rights advocate and member of ÖHD, the article delves into the implications of Öcalan’s isolation.
Here are the highlights:
Today, the isolation in İmralı Prison continues in severe proportions, but it should be known that this isolation is not new. Since the first day in İmralı Prison, there have been periods of intensified isolation… Furthermore, it’s not only Abdullah Öcalan who is in İmralı Prison; there are other prisoners as well. They have also been unable to meet with their families and lawyers for years, in clear violation of the law.
This situation is entirely related to Turkey’s inability to be a rule of law state. In Turkey, it is clearly defined in the law how a convicted prisoner should meet with their families and lawyers. However, unfortunately, when it comes to Öcalan, the Republic of Turkey does not even apply its own domestic law.
In fact, it is not possible to consider the isolation in İmralı Prison solely as a policy of isolation in a prison. It is completely related to the Kurdish question. More precisely, it is related to the decisions that reveal the state’s Kurdish policy. Currently, a policy of unresolved conflict is ongoing. Therefore, isolation in İmralı continues and it continues severely.
Let’s not forget that the same government, during the so-called “Peace Process,” allowed both Öcalan’s lawyers and politicians to easily have meetings with him. This reveals that the isolation in İmralı is entirely related to the state’s Kurdish policy.
While the state continues to implement the law selectively based on the person in question, many groups who claim to be opposition either hesitate to speak out against this unlawfulness or remain silent because they do not have different views from the state…
… As the Human Rights Association, we have repeatedly requested to visit İmralı Prison. However, our requests have not been accepted.
The mentality of the state has regressed to the 90s. The unresolved conflict and violence policy of the 90s, as well as security measures, still form the basis of the Kurdish question today. Unfortunately, there is still no intention from the state forces to take a step towards resolving the issue.
However, for such an intention to arise, for the Kurdish question to be truly resolved peacefully, for the conflict environment to end, for people to be able to return to their homes without concern for their children, a truly peaceful atmosphere is needed. Therefore, those who claim to be opposition within the region have significant responsibilities as well.