The hunger strike action in Turkey’s prisons – which began with the call to end the prison isolation conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the increasing rights violations that were taking place against political prisoners in Turkey – has been continuing for more than seven months.
Mehmet Karataş, the head of the Human Rights Association (IHD) Van (Wan) branch in Turkey, once again emphasized, in an interview with MA, that solitary confinement is an inhuman prison practice.
Karataş also noted that Turkey is the only country where a special legal treatment has been employed against a single prisoner. He pointed out that Öcalan has been kept in solitary confinement for 22 years.
Indicating that more and more severe measures were being imposed on Öcalan, he stated that such measures had no legal basis either in international law or domestic law. “This is a totally politically motivated practice. There cannot be a law exclusively applied for a single individual,” he added.
Karataş stated that Öcalan had the right to be visited by his lawyers and family members, and these visits, along with his right to receive legal counselling, had been blocked by state officials.
“The solitary confinement imposed upon Öcalan is related to the deadlock in the solution of the Kurdish problem. They choose to steer away from a solution by increasing the pressure on Öcalan through means of isolation,” he said.
“So, in the process of taking a path towards a solution, the first thing to be done is to end the isolation. The existing legal framework is sufficient to do this. Nothing extra is required.”
Karataş also criticized the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) for not taking any steps against the solitary confinement of Öcalan, adding that the CPT did not even intend to become a part of a solution. “The CPT’s attitude is important in order to reach a solution. I believe their reluctance to take action on this matter is something that has been done deliberately,” he said.