The Freedom for Öcalan campaign will hold an emergency press briefing at the European Parliament on the prison conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, who has been behind bars in Turkey since his capture and trial in 1999.
“Mr. Ocalan has been held in solitary confinement in Turkey for twenty-four years, and for the last two years even his lawyers and family have been denied any contact or access to him. It is currently unknown if he is alive and well and there are now very grave concerns for his life and wellbeing,” campaign co-chairs Baroness Christine Blower and Simon Dubbins from Unite the Union said in their call.
The last contact the founding leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) had with the outside world was in an interrupted phone call with his brother in 2021. Various groups have been calling for information on his condition.
“We are also deeply concerned that the institution in the Council of Europe that is responsible for monitoring the conditions of Mr. Ocalan’s incarceration – The Committee for the prevention of Torture (CPT) – is not providing the public with sufficient information,” the campaigners said.
The CPT visited the İmralı Island Prison, a specialty institution in northwestern Turkey prepared for Öcalan that now houses several other high-profile members of the PKK as inmates, in September but did not release its findings in a report. As per its bylaws, the committee presents its findings to related CoE member states, which then can decide whether the report will be made public.
“In the press briefing we will highlight the completely inadequate response by European governments, human rights organisations, and the Council of Europe, and that their failure to act makes them complicit in this infringement and abuse of basic human rights,” the campaigners concluded.
The call is co-signed by Lord Navnit Dholakia, Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, SNP’s Chris Stephens, Glasgow Councillor Roza Salih, writer James Kelman, Scottish TUC President Mike Arnott, UNISON Scotland deputy Stephen Smellie, Stop the War Coalition’s Lindsey German, Prof Felix Padel, legal consultant Paul Scholey, Dr Derek Wall from the University of London, former president of Plaid Cymru Dafydd Iwan, barrister Michael Mansfield KC, and Prof Bill Bowring from the International Secretary of Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers.