The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee has demanded an end to the incommunicado status of the prisoners at İmralı Prison and expects Turkey to respond by the end of March, Özgür Erol, one of the lawyers who made the application told Mezopotamya Agency.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and three other prisoners, Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş are held in conditions of strict isolation at Turkey’s İmralı Prison. No communication of any kind is allowed with the outside world, even with families or lawyers. The last time Öcalan spoke to a relative was nearly two years ago, while his lawyers have had no contact with him for nearly four years.
The lawyers at Asrın Law Office applied at the end of 2022 to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Öcalan and the three other inmates at İmralı Prison. Upon this application, the committee requested the Turkish government end the “incommunicado” state of the prisoners in İmrali with a note that the applicants should have immediate and unrestricted access to their lawyers.
Turkey must respond to the committee’s request, which is an interim measure, by the end of March. When Turkey responds, negotiations are expected. But, the lawyer said, “it is significant” that the Human Rights Committee has grasped the situation early on and made such a request to the government.
Erol also remarked that the restrictive conditions at İmralı Prison “now surpass even the conditions at Guantanamo Bay”, illustrating the severity of the 12 year long period of obstacles that Öcalan’s lawyers have fought.
When lawyers made previous applications to the prison for legal visits to their clients, their applications have either been ignored or rejected on the grounds of “disciplinary punishments”. Erol confirmed that there was “no legal or material basis” for this.
Erol also detailed the attempts of the Asrın Law Office to break the strict isolation condition of the İmralı prisoners, including meeting with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and international applications made.
With regard to the CPT, the lawyer said they had been visiting and compiling reports since the day İmralı Prison was first established, and that the CPT “knows all the developments at the prison, month by month and year by year.” He said there was “certain information” leading to the conclusion that the CPT’s 2022 visit to İmralı in 2018 was a “special visit”.