The family of Veysi Aktaş, one of the detainees held in İmralı Island Prison alongside the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, had pleaded with authorities to cease the policy of absolute isolation, citing concerns for Aktaş’s well-being.
For over two years, Aktaş’s family, along with other detainees’ relatives, have been denied access to their loved ones.
Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım, and Veysi Aktaş have been completely cut off from the outside world since a disrupted phone call on March 25, 2021. Despite repeated requests from their families and lawyers for meetings, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has consistently denied their appeals, citing a visitation ban. Furthermore, their application for the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday has been met with silence.
Veysi Aktaş, who has been imprisoned on İmralı Island since 2015, has been subjected to complete isolation from his family. Expressing her anguish, Aktaş’s mother, Faika Aktaş, voiced her distress, stating, “Since he was transferred to İmralı, I haven’t been able to see my son. No phone calls, no letters. I long to see my son during this holiday season. I implore the Ministry of Justice to grant me the opportunity to reunite with my son.”
Sabiha Aslan, Veysi Aktaş’s sister, shared her experience of visiting İmralı Prison in 2019, describing the dire conditions and rigorous search procedures imposed on visitors. Aslan emphasised her desire to communicate with her brother in Kurdish during the visit, but officials insisted on speaking Turkish. Despite their disagreement, a voice recording device was provided, with two officials present during the conversation.
During their last encounter, Aslan noticed a significant deterioration in her brother’s condition, suggesting that he may be unwell as a result of the prevailing circumstances.
Aslan lamented the inability to see her brother during the past seven holidays, condemning the severe oppression and lack of empathy. She declared, “This level of oppression is unprecedented. We are denied the opportunity to meet during holidays or communicate via phone. This isolation must end. This oppression must cease. There is no justification for such boundless torture. We cannot comprehend it. We have been devoid of news for 28 months.”
Aslan also mentioned the recent passing of her father six months ago, revealing that their application for a visit or attendance at the funeral was unjustly rejected.
The families of the detainees, alongside their supporters, are urgently calling on Turkish authorities to address their concerns and put an end to the policy of absolute isolation. The issue has garnered international attention, with human rights organizations advocating for a fair and transparent resolution to this matter.
However, Turkish authorities continue to maintain a tough stance on isolation and pursue legal action against those who voice criticism of the policy.