Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) on Friday invited the public to join a march towards İmralı prison to protest the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The march will start on 6 February, the party’s spokeswoman Ebru Günay said, calling Öcalan a primary actor who represents the solution for the country’s Kurdish question that will benefit the peoples of Turkey.
“This march is for solution, for the future of the country” said Günay, adding that the march will be “organised under any circumstances.”
The “We March to İmralı for Solution” rally is organised by the Democratic Regions Party (DBP), the HDP and other major Kurdish organisations and will be a two-pronged march, starting from the Kurdish-majority provinces Mardin (Mêrdîn) and Hakkari (Colemêrg) in southeastern Turkey.
The march is set to cross almost the whole map of Turkey and to conclude in Gemlik, the northwestern Turkish town where boats to İmralı Island leave from, on 15 February, the 24th anniversary of the PKK-leader’s capture and eventual imprisonment.
For nine days, the committees accompanying the marchers will hold public meetings, panels and press statements along both routes to discuss the absolute isolation of Öcalan in prison.
The PKK leader last had contact with the outside world in an interrupted phone call with his brother in March 2021, while his last counsel with his lawyers was in 2019. Concerns about his well-being intensified after the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture’s (CPT) ad-hoc visit to the İmralı Prison in September 2022, which was not accompanied by a public statement regarding the prison conditions of Öcalan.
Öcalan was sentenced to death on 29 June 1999, but his sentence was reverted to life imprisonment without parole when Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2002.