1,330 lawyers from 35 bar associations apply to the Ministry of Justice to meet with Öcalan
Denouncing the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, 1,330 lawyers from 35 bar associations in Turkey applied to the Ministry of Justice to meet with Öcalan.
1,330 lawyers from 35 bar associations applied to the Ministry of Justice to meet with PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan, demanding an end to the uninterrupted isolation imposed on the Kurdish leader for 34 months. The Association of Lawyers for Freedom (ÖHD), Association of Contemporary Lawyers (ÇHD), members of many bar association and rights and legal organisations made a press statement in front of Diyarbakır Courthouse regarding the application. Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) MPs George Aslan, Saliha Aydeniz, Serhat Eren, Newroz Uysal Aslan, Dilan Kunt Ayan, Cengiz Çiçek also attended the press briefing in support of the initiative.
ÖHD Co-Chair Ekin Yeter, who made the joint statement agreed in the name of the participants, drew attention to the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan in İmralı Island Prison, stating the following:
"As it is known, Mr Abdullah Öcalan, Mr Ömer Hayri Konar, Mr Hamili Yıldırım and Mr Veysi Aktaş, who are being held in İmralı F Type High Security Prison, are prevented from meeting with their lawyers in violation of the law.
Öcalan denied visits by lawyers since 7 August 2019
As we have repeatedly discussed and informed you, Mr. Abdullah Öcalan has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 7 August 2019 and the other prisoners Mr. Veysi Aktaş, Mr. Hamili Yıldırım and Mr. Ömer Hayri Konar have not been allowed to see their lawyers since 2015 when they were transferred to İmralı Island.
The ban on lawyer visits continued uninterruptedly for 8 years from 27 July 2011 until 2 May 2019. 5 lawyer visits were made in 2019 and the ban was resumed after the last lawyer visit on 7 August 2019.
Ban on lawyer visits violates the Execution Law, international rules and human rights conventions
In the process, the CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture), in its report on 5 August 2020 on its visit to İmralı Prison in 2019, stated that Öcalan and the other three prisoners were under a state of complete prohibition in their contact with the outside world, a kind of absolute incommunicado. In its assessment, the CPT said that such a situation was unacceptable and contrary to relevant international human rights deeds and standards.
The ban on lawyer visits to İmralı Prison not only clearly violates the Execution Law No. 5275, but also contravenes international rules and human rights conventions. We would like to remind once again that states are obliged to ensure that detainees and convicts can exercise their rights regardless of their identity and the nature of their sentence. Turkey is not exempt from this obligation.
Applications in 2022 remain unanswered
Under domestic and international law and ethical rules, lawyers should be able to carry out their professional activities and meet with their clients without any pressure, obstruction, harassment or undue interference.
We, 775 lawyers registered to 29 different bar associations across Turkey, applied to Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and İmralı Prison Administration in 2022 to demand that these rules be respected and that lawyer visits be carried out as soon as possible against the state of incommunicado created by the illegal, unlawful and illegitimate ban and restriction decisions. No response was given to the application made by hundreds of lawyers, including bar association presidents, in 2022.
Applications from other countries also left unanswered
Subsequently, 350 lawyers from 22 different countries, especially European countries, applied to the Ministry of Justice on 14 September 2022 and 756 lawyers from the Middle East applied to the Ministry of Justice on 19 September 2022, requesting to meet with the prisoners in İmralı Island Prison and demanding an end to the ongoing violations. However, these requests were also left unanswered.
We would like to underline once again that the efforts of the lawyers against the isolation and violation of the right to defence are essentially a struggle for the implementation of the rights secured by international conventions and rules to which Turkey is a party, especially the European Convention on Human Rights.
Today, we would like to share with you the news that we have sent our application to the Ministry of Justice requesting a meeting with Mr Abdullah Öcalan, Mr Ömer Hayri Konar, Mr Hamili Yıldırım and Mr Veysi Aktaş who are being held in İmralı. As 1,330 lawyers from 35 bar associations, we repeat our demand for an immediate end to this ongoing unlawfulness."