European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH) co-chair Barbara Spinelli said that the isolation against Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan is the biggest prisoner human rights violation committed in the last century.
Spinelli spoke about the recent visit of European Convention for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in September 2022 to İmralı Island where Öcalan is imprisoned and the uncertainty on whether or not CPT met face to face with Öcalan.
The lawyer said that CPT bylaws should be changed in order for the committee to be able to be transparent about the outcome of the visit.
“If the Turkish government allow it, CPT can enter into detail about the findings of the delegation, so we must push the Turkish government to give transparency to allow CPT to talk now -not after some years- about the delegation’s findings,” she said.
Shortly before the CPT’s latest visit to the prison was announced, ELDH had called on the Committee to revisit İmralı Prison. “It will be very difficult for the Turkish government to ignore such a global demand,” ELDH’s co-chair had said.
“No-one knows if Mr Öcalan is alive, and this is extremely worrying,” said Spinelli. Öcalan’s laywers, Asrın Law Office, had stated that following the delegation’s visit to İmralı, CPT did not provide the slightest information about the conditions of their client.
“CPT did all that they can do based on their mission and based on committee rules. At the end of every delegation, they prepare reports that are very strong against Turkey, with very exact obligations and recommendations to Turkey on what to do to improve the situation in İmralı. The problem is that Turkey is not complying with these international obligations or with CPT’s recommendations,” lawyer Spinelli said.
“In the history books Öcalan’s isolation will be seen as the greatest human rights violation of a prisoner in the last century,” she added, saying that the persecution of the Kurdish leader is part of Turkey’s genocidal policy against the Kurds.
Previously, lawyers from 22 countries issued a statement condemning Turkey’s prosecution of those who demanded an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurdish fighters in its cross-border military operations and called on the Turkish government release activists and civil society figures detained in relation.
Barbara Spinelli, as a human rights activist and lawyer, has been an observer at many trials in Turkey including Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) cases and trials against Öcalan’s lawyers. She was also an electoral observer for the Turkish elections in 2015.