Gülistan Sönük of the Free Women’s Movement (TJA) shared her views and concerns with ANHA about the increasingly severe prison isolation conditions that are being imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
She also presented her perspectives on the prison hunger strike in Turkey that has reached to its 250th day, demanding an end to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan and the violations of rights taking place in prisons.
“International legal institutions are completely ignoring the isolation at İmralı prison. The prisoners at Imralı prison are even being obstructed from seeing each other on various pretexts,” she said.
Sönük holds the UN and international forces responsible for the isolation practices at Imralı prison. “The Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited Turkey. But they did not meet with Mr. Öcalan or his lawyer, but with the representatives of the Justice and Development Party (AKP, the main party in the ruling coalition). The CPT is turning a blind eye to the isolation system in Imralı, and thus paving the way for isolation to spread to all prisons.”
She stated that the increasing waves of attacks against Kurds in Turkey and in Iraqi (South) Kurdistan are not unconnected with the isolation in Imralı.
According to Sönük, the ruling coalition “is not allowing Mr Öcalan to meet with others, because it knows that if he can make contact with the outside world, it is possible that a climate of peace may develop, and this would frustrate their policies, which feed upon war.”
She also pointed out that there has been much interest in Mr Öcalan’s philosophy of freedom and the model he has established on this basis, but the ruling coalition is trying to silence him by tightening the conditions around his prison isolation. “They are also trying to prevent women from expressing themselves by suppressing him. This is all part of the ‘dirty war’ in South Kurdistan.”
Sönük touched upon the attempts of Öcalan’s lawyers and his family to see him, and the application made to the CPT by lawyers of the Asrın Law Office. “The Turkish state is clearly committing an offence in refusing Mr Öcalan meetings with his lawyers and his family. The CPT remains silent about this, and so is an accomplice to the offence. The CPT needs to apply pressure to the Turkish state forthwith.”
Finally, commenting on the prison hunger strike in Turkey, she said, “Prisoners have often undergone hunger strikes in the past. Lives have been lost. Our people need to go out into the streets to demonstrate so that the same thing does not happen again.”
Sönük continued: “Prisoners are even being subjected to persecution when they go for health checks. They will continue their hunger strike, no matter what they are subjected to, until the situation is improved and the isolation at Imralı prison is brought to an end.”
She believes that there can be no possibility of freedom for the Kurdish people without the isolation being brought to an end. Sönük ended with an appeal to women, “To all women of our time, we need to raise our voices everywhere against isolation.”
“We will not obtain our freedom without an end to the isolation, and the physical liberty of Mr Öcalan. We need to come out in the streets and squares everywhere to protect our freedom and our achievements so far.”