Turkey’s isolation of Abdullah Öcalan has been motioned for the United Kingdom’s parliamentary agenda by Scottish National Party (SNP) MP Chris Stephens, tabled on the 19 September.
The early doors motion warns that Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Öcalan has been detained in Turkey’s notorious İmralı island prison since 1999 under conditions that contravene international law. Incarceration conditions on İmralı have worsened over the years, with Öcalan, a pivotal figure in the Kurdish freedom movement, held in absolute isolation for the last two years.
“This House notes with great concern the continued incarceration in isolation by Turkish authorities of Abdullah Öcalan. The failure to permit family visits and contacts constitutes a gross violation of any prisoner’s basic rights,” the MP said.
Stephens called on the UK government to urge Turkey to end Öcalan’s isolation, thereby initiating a peace process that “acknowledges Öcalan’s true record of constructive peace proposals and efforts to provide a lasting solution that satisfies the wishes of Kurds and Turks”.
Former opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, also a long-term advocate for Kurdish rights within the UK government, spoke up last year at a Strasbourg vigil for Öcalan’s freedom.
“The reality is, to bring about a long term political settlement in Turkey which respects the rights of all languages and all ethnic groups, you have to speak to people who are the identified leaders of communities, and the continued imprisonment of Öcalan is not a step towards peace. It’s a step away,” he said.