Rezan Sarica, one of the lawyers of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, answered questions of Mesopotamia Agency (MA) related to the serious concerns of his health and well being.
The spread of recent allegations on social media accounts regarding the health and well being, and even the life of the leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, Abdullah Öcalan has raised serious concerns in the last two weeks. There has been no information from the PKK leader since 27 April 2020.
Asrın Law Office, the lawyers firm that represent Abdullah Öcalan drew attention to the serious allegations and have made several emergency applications to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Justice with requests for an “urgent visit”.
Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, made a written statement two days later regarding the allegations, denying the rumours claiming that Abdullah Öcalan was in good health. The Ministry of Justice has not made any statements thus far.
What is the purpose of the isolation in Imrali?
”An international conspiracy brought Abdullah Öcalan to Turkey, where he was then transferred to Imrali Island where he has been left for the last 22 years. The most important reason for this situation is of course related to the Kurdish question. Mr. Öcalan has been waging a struggle to solve the Kurdish question in a peaceful and political way through negotiations. In fact, when we look at the reasons for the Kurdish question, it is possible to understand why such an isolation policy has been imposed on him. Mr. Öcalan was brought to Turkey as a result of a conspiracy, the results of which are seen in the ongoing conflict and the state of crisis in Middle East today. These conflicts with both regional and international interests, continue today. It is described by many in the Middle East as the 3rd World War here. The reasons for the isolation imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan continue today.
We have to look at what Mr. Öcalan represents. He is being blocked because he is in the position of being a political actor and influencer in the region who can change the balance positively, in favor of democracy, in favor of freedom and human rights. In the context of an ongoing, multidimensional conflict and ongoing war in the Middle East, international powers continue to isolate Mr Öcalan in line with their own goals and interests in the shaping of the Middle East.
This isolation is also applied in order to prevent the progressive ideas about freedom of the peoples, which Mr Öcalan offers through the perspective of what he has termed a Democratic Nation. Neither the constitutional commissions established by the United Nations nor the Non Governmental organizations have a purposeful plan, goal or project to solve this crisis, which is locked in stalemate in Syria and other geographical areas. In this respect, severe isolation is applied on the Kurdish leader because of Mr. Öcalan’s ability to present a peaceful, progresive, political solution to the question.
You have not been allowed to visit with your client for a long time. Recently, various claims have been made on social media accounts regarding Öcalan’s health and safety conditions. What concerns do you have?
Mr. Öcalan is a person of historic importance and he has a lifelong political mission. He is waging a tremendous struggle for the resolution of the Kurdish question in an honorable and democratic basis. In this sense any claims regarding him should not be simply read as ‘ordinary news’.
Every time such claims are made, our concerns increase. We legally should be meeting with our client every week. If the Imralı administration worked the way it should be working then we would not have worried about such news when it came out, because we would be meeting with our client and the family would be meeting with their relative too.
Let me explain to understand the system of isolation in Imralı; the application process in all other prisons in Turkey, at any time during office hours on weekdays, detainees or convicts in other prisons have a chance of direct talks with their lawyers. But this is evidently not the case with Mr. Öcalan on İmralı Island. And Mr. Öcalan’s voice has not been heard since April 27, 2020, and there has been no direct meeting with him since March 3, 2020. There has been no news from him for nearly one year, there is an unknown, a darkness.
Our concerns on this issue must be resolved. The only way to do this is to meet with our client. We need to physically see Mr. Öcalan in front of us and hear his voice. This can be either a family view or a lawyer’s view. We have lodged an urgent request to meet immediately, both regarding the isolation, that the isolation should be lifted, and regarding our concerns.
Are there any developments regarding the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) that you applied to?
We have applied to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) twice in the last week. We have invited the CPT as matter of urgency. In fact, the CPT has knowledge of all aspects of the legal, administrative and isolation in Imrali, including the latest development. We have submitted our own report and application on this subject to the CPT.
One aspect of our call to CPT is to remind it, that it should not approach İmralı Island as an ‘ordinary prison’. There are many dimensions of torture violated in different layered ways. The ultimate task of the CPT is to prevent the implementation of any aspect of torture, and if it could not prevent, it is to ensure its effective elimination. Therefore, we know that it can act ‘de facto’ for these recent allegations regarding Mr. Öcalan, and they do have the authority to act in this matter.
However, there has not been any response regarding our lastest two applications yet.
Since the international conspiracy, there have been many dimensions of the Imralı isolation regime. First is the European dimension; the European Court of Human Rights and the CPT are part of it. They reported torture in 2020. But the CPT after making the findings and publishing them, act in a way as if it has fulfilled its duty. We remind you that this is not the case.
Has there been contact with the Council of Europe to which the CPT is affiliated?
During the important period, decisions were made within the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe adopted the CPT decisions.
There were decisions to fulfill the recommendations in the CPT reports and to implement improvements in Imralı. But it worries us that this has not lead to a serious and significant result in practice. The impact on Turkey of European law is ineffective. Of course, Europe does not carry out a very enthusiastic follow up or pressurise the Turkish government to implement these recommendations.
How do you evaluate that your applications have been left unanswered despite the increasing concerns of the public?
It shows how strict and what an extraordinary regime there is in Imralı. What other than extraordinary development needs to happen to allow a meeting in Imralı? There had been an earthquake before. Again, there was a fire. Such claims about the well being of our client are being made today. Despite this, no meeting takes place today. Therefore, it is revealed how anti-democratic the law is in Imralı and that there is an extraordinary law formed in line with the political interests of the political powers.
Of course, we will continue to apply to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Minister of Justice in terms of local and administrative aspects. Again, we will apply to the Execution Judge with a request to resolve our concerns and to end the isolation and of course, our applications to the CPT will continue. Likewise, within the framework of European law, we can apply to the Council of Europe and to the European Court of Human Rights, the United Nations mechanisms and international mechanisms.
We will evaluate them according to the conditions. We do not, for one moment, accept the conditions in which our client is being held in any way. In this sense, we will consider using all national and international mechanisms.