The Turkish Ministry of Health has said it is not their duty to inform the public about the state of health of imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been held in absolute isolation for 34 months.
The ministry’s statement came in response to a parliamentary question posed by Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party MP Sezai Temelli in November requesting information about Öcalan’s state of health in the high-security prison on İmrali Island. He also asked why Öcalan’s family, lawyers and the public were not being kept informed about his state of health.
The ministry responded saying the matter did not fall within its field of duty.
“If health is not your duty, then what is?” asked Temelli in a parliamentary session on Tuesday. The MP demanded further explanation, accusing the Minister for Health Fahrettin Koca of ignoring the health of the people and focusing on the construction of hospital buildings.
The PKK leader has been held in solitary confinement on the Turkish island of İmralı since 1999. He has had no contact with the outside world for two and a half years. The last meeting with his lawyers took place in August 2019, and the last communication with anyone outside prison walls – a brief phone call with his brother – dates back to March 2021.