Isolation makes finding solutions more difficult
More than 21 years have passed since Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan was kidnapped and detained. On 15 February 1999, an international conspiracy, in which the CIA was also involed, managed to capture Öcalan who since then is in Imrali.
Since then, his lawyers' limited access to their client has also become a measure of the Turkish state's unwillingness to solve the Kurdish question.
The lawyers of the Asrin Law office describe the Imrali prison island, where Öcalan is held, as a system of isolation and a sign of the unwillingness of the Turkish government to seek for a solution to the democratic question and the Kurdish question in Turkey and northern Kurdistan.
Öcalan saw his lawyers 60 times in 1999, 37 times in 2000, 40 times in 2001, 35 times in 2002, 21 times in 2003, 25 times in 2004, 14 times in 2005 and 22 times in 2006. Countless requests for visits were rejected for a variety of reasons. In 2007, all visits were denied for five and a half months either due to "bad weather" or a "broken ship". During this time, punishments had been ordered against Öcalan three times. In 2008, his hair was forcibly shaved - a message that the Kurdish people saw as a threat of extermination and protested accordingly. Öcalan was completely isolated during this time.
No lawyer visits for eight years
Between 2008 and July 27, 2011, all applications for a visit were denied. There was a total isolation of 8 years. All 618 applications submitted until 2017 were rejected. 202 applications between 2017 and 2018 were also rejected due to a "disciplinary measure". This punishment was based on legal discussions from 2007 to 2010. After the hunger strike, led by HDP Hakkari MP Leyla Güven, which lasted over 200 days, on 2 May 2019, eight years after the last visit, Öcalan was able to see his. After a second meeting on 22 May, the big hunger strike, which had been joined by thousands of people, was called off on 26 May following a call by Öcalan.
Once again applications are not even answered
Even though the solitary confinement conditions persisted despite the visits, three more meetings could take place until 7 August 2019. Since then, no visit has been granted. Of the 105 visit requests submitted in 2019, 5 were accepted, 67 ignored and 23 rejected. The 38 requests made in what goes of 2020 were completely ignored.
Prevent a solution together with Ergenekon
ANF spoke to lawyers from the Asrin Law Office about all this. The lawyers say that the basis for the kidnapping of Öcalan in Nairobi on 15 August 1999 had already been laid. The state continues to disregard a solution to the Kurdish question even today. It is about keeping everything under the control of state and nation. The isolation of Imrali continues, and something similar is intended. Once again, it became very clear how politicians cling to and continue to cling to the ongoing conflict. In the past, the AKP had pursued this goal in alliance with the Gülen community, and today it does so in a coalition with the MHP and the Ergenekon network. Those who cling to military operations, want the war and to ensure the detention of thousands but they also want to silence Öcalan's voice in order to maintain their power, according to the Asrin law office.
Direct talks with the CPT
The legal office has long been fighting isolation at all legal levels, both in Turkey and internationally, and has submitted numerous applications. These are about the right to telephone, the right to write and receive letters, the right to receive visit by relatives and lawyers and the right to adequate protection against the pandemic. These applications have been submitted to both the General Prosecutor's Office in Bursa and the Imrali Prison Administration. On 16 April, the Office contacted the Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee with the same demands. The office is waiting for the decision at the moment. The lawyers will announce, if the conditions allow, to speak directly to those responsible for the CPT.
Rights in a state of emergency
The last visit to Imrali was in March. It was a family visit that could not be prevented by the state due to the public's concern about the consequences of a fire in Imrali. On 27 April there was a telephone conversation with the families about the pandemic. This was the first telephone conversation Öcalan was able to hold since his kidnapping in 1999. In relation to this, the Asrin Law office describes the legal situation on Imrali as a “state of emergency”, which only allows prisoners to get their rights in the event of epidemics or fires.
Isolation affects all of society
The Asrin Law Office warns that silence about isolation on Imrali is extremely dangerous for social peace and demands to expose the legal catastrophe experienced in Imrali. The lawyers told ANF: “Turkey is no longer a constitutional state. In this sense, the whole public must speak out against isolation and protest against it. The isolation system and the lawlessness it creates are the reason for the lack of willingness in seeking a solution to the Kurdish question. This affects society as a whole."