Muslim: Imrali is an international system which includes Europe

Speaking about the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, PYD co-chair Salih Muslim criticised the CPT, saying, “The committee must step out of the position of rapporteur, take action against torture and make appropriate recommendations.”

There has been no sign of life from the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan for 22 months. The AKP/MHP regime relies on war and repression at all levels in an attempt to hold on to power. In an interview with ANF, Salih Muslim, co-chair of the Democratic Unity Party (PYD), which is mainly active in northern and eastern Syria, criticises the role of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) in the isolation on the prison island of Imrali.

How do you evaluate the policy of total isolation on Imrali that has been going on for 22 months?

It is impossible to separate the isolation policy from the resistance of the Kurdish people. If you go back to the beginning, to the abduction of Abdullah Öcalan in 1999, his imprisonment in Imrali, the imposition of isolation, taking into account the role of the European Union and the presence of a CPT representative, it is clear that all this is related to the restructuring project "Greater Middle East" [a US-led restructuring of the Middle East]. It is about restructuring the Middle East. There was no Kurdish people until the 20th century. Their existence, identity and life were not recognised. Then a party, an organisational structure emerges to wake up the people. This is not only about the people in Northern Kurdistan, but in all parts of Kurdistan. The people take part in the struggle. This was not expected. Measures had to be taken against this, as it threatened the whole "Greater Middle East" plan. The Kurdish freedom aspirations were an obstacle to this project. This was because it was a new ideology, philosophy and way of life.

When we talk about the Kurdish people, we are talking about over 50 million people. The plot, the imprisonment and the isolation [of Mr. Öcalan] are related to this. Everyone says: "The freedom of Leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] means the freedom of Kurdistan." That is true, there is this close connection. That is why he was imprisoned and is being held until today. At the beginning, it was thought that this would put an end to it all and "get rid of him". But that did not happen.

Isolation has been enforced in various ways from the beginning and has developed into absolute isolation. For when the Leader finds an opportunity, he immediately addresses the people. Let us remember that two years ago, in a short telephone conversation, he inquired about the people's situation and offered an initiative. That is why he is not allowed to make any phone calls.

Who is behind this policy beyond Turkey?

This policy is being implemented by the forces that have been involved in the conspiracy from the beginning. These are Gladio and NATO. Turkey is only the beadle here. This is the situation. Of course, Turkey is always put in the foreground in the war, it is in the centre of the action, but it is not free. Turkey has its own laws and regulations, but it does not apply them. The system on Imrali is an international system, which includes Europe, and it is still under the control of the NATO organisation Gladio.


The total isolation of the last two years is the result of this. Isolation is torture. The prisoner in Imralı is not just a prisoner, he is not held in a cell with a locked door, he is tortured on a daily basis. We do not know the details in Imrali, but psychological torture is taking place. If this were not the case, he could receive news from outside and hear that his philosophy has spread as far as the Philippines. He would see that the century of "Jin Jiyan Azadî" [Woman, Life, Freedom] he spoke of has begun and that millions of people are demanding freedom in the streets every day. But in order to keep up the pressure against him, he is not allowed to receive any news from outside and we are not allowed to receive any information from inside. Torture is taking place every day to negatively affect the morale of the people.

Isolation must not be seen only as an expression of Turkey's fascism, but must be considered in all its dimensions. A democratic solution must be found in Turkey. The flag of resistance must be held high. Everyone must be aware of the isolation, and it must be ensured that the enemy withdraws. The enemy is not only carrying out the policy of oppression in Imrali, but is also directing this oppression against the Kurdish people at the same time. People are tortured every day. The massacre in Paris has made this even more concrete. In Kurdistan, there is a bitter war that is still going on. All this is a consequence of isolation. It is in our interest to expose this. In the past, people were ashamed of the Kurdish reality, but now we are playing a pioneering role worldwide. The Gladio system must be destroyed through resistance and the truth about Gladio must be shown to the world. This will certainly have an impact on political decisions.


Do you think the resistance was enough in the face of the expansion of isolation?

The resistance in 2022 was certainly huge. But we still have a lot to do, because the goals have not yet been achieved. The resistance was successful, but not enough. For this, it is necessary to expand the resistance. The recent protests by MPs in front of the Ministry of Justice are very important. Whether the enemy is listening or not, the actions still continue. At least something is being done, because we cannot remain silent. Everyone, beyond the guerrilla resistance, should intensify their struggle, the actions should spread to many places. The people must rise against fascism day after day. They may be beaten, some may be arrested, but the people must stand up for these actions. The resistance must be strengthened against all odds in the metropolises of Turkey. It must be a democratic resistance. It is important to insist on this resistance.

Why is the CPT not fulfilling its mission?

Yes, there is also the CPT problem. This is the Committee for the Prevention of Torture. If there is torture, the committee has to oppose it and prevent torture. Unfortunately, the CPT has only taken an observer role in the Öcalan issue. It analyses whether torture exists or not and submits its report to the Council of Europe. However, the Council of Europe says that it cannot publish the report without Turkey's consent. If you really want to prevent torture, the committee has to step out of the position of rapporteur, take action against torture and make appropriate recommendations. There is a great power behind the CPT. We mean the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, the various institutions and authorities, but even they do nothing. The CPT goes to Imrali but says nothing. There is no information about the situation of the Leader. This is also a form of torture. This must be prevented. If it cannot be prevented, why is the prison visited at all? The denial of lawyer and family visits is also a form of torture. Under Turkish law, prisoners are allowed to talk to their families on the phone. That is also not allowed. Isn't all this part of torture? The CPT has the power to prevent this torture, but unfortunately it has not done so. We have said this from the beginning in our talks with Europe. You talk about democracy, but democracy does not apply to Europe alone. We also need democracy. Laws that are not accepted in Europe are presented as discretionary and accepted here. Why do you accept that? Why do you remain silent? Is this how you want to spread democracy everywhere? Of course not. As Kurdish people, forces and political parties, we can play a catalyst role. And this can be done through democratic resistance.

What kind of struggle should be waged in 2023 to break the isolation?

Millions of people will wonder why there is such stubborn resistance and protest. If the resistance and struggle is intensified both in Kurdistan and abroad in 2023, it will lead to more results. Maybe we don't meet with leaders on a daily basis, but there are these talks. Isolation must be at the forefront of these talks. We should at least make them start doubting when it comes to implementing democracy and human rights. We can change the equation by getting them to accept that the laws and rules they make are not considered valid for us, but that we are also human beings and that we should be held to our own laws. In 2022, the resistance of the Kurdish people has reached a certain level, but I think that this resistance needs to be increased and strengthened until we get results.