Öcalan’s lawyers write an open letter to Minister of Justice: Are you aware of your responsibility?

“From which law do you get the right to keep a prison and the four Kurdish political prisoners in that prison under these conditions, to cut off all communication with the outside world?” ask Öcalan’s lawyers in an open letter to the Minister of Justice.

For 720 days there has been no sign of life from Abdullah Öcalan and his three fellow prisoners on the prison island of Imrali in the Sea of Marmara. The Asrin Law Firm, which represents the Imrali prisoners, has sent an open letter to Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ demanding compliance with the current laws.

The open letter sent to the Turkish Justice Minister reads as follows:

“Our clients who are being held in İmralı Prison, Mr. Abdullah Ocalan, Mr. Hamili Yildirim, Mr. Ömer Hayri Konar and Mr. Despite all our attempts and all the applications we have made, we have not been able to receive any news from Veysi Aktaş for 720 days. We were able to hear from Imrali on March 25, 2021, during the pandemic conditions that ravaged the whole world, thanks to the phone calls our clients made with their families incompletely, in order to alleviate their concerns. At the same time, during the 24-year Imrali captivity, in this short interview, which is the second phone call, Mr. Öcalan had specifically stated to his brother that he wanted to take advantage of the right to meet with his lawyers, who had the legal right. We, as lawyers, have made and continue to apply to all judicial and administrative authorities that we can apply to, both at the national and international level, in order to overcome this unlawful and inhumane isolation.

In 2019, the hunger strikes in prisons and the death fasts they evolved after reached a critical stage, and many people ended their lives to protest the isolation policy. The Minister of Justice , who was your predecessor at one time , went in front of the cameras and said that there was no obstacle to having a lawyer's opinion in Imrali . Five lawyer meetings took place in 2019 and Mr. Öcalan stepped in and prevented hundreds of possible deaths and once again gave the whole society a sigh of relief. The last lawyer meeting in İmralı took place on August 7, 2019. And despite the words of the Minister of Justice of the time, going to Imrali for a lawyer was banned again for nearly four years.

We, the lawyers and their families, have not received any information or news from Imrali since March 25, 2021. We do not have the slightest observation, experience or knowledge of what is happening there. From which law do you get the right to keep a prison and the four Kurdish political prisoners in that prison under these conditions, to cut off all communication with the outside world?

Dear Minister,

On February 6, a major earthquake disaster took place in our country. According to official figures, more than 48,000 of our citizens lost their lives, and tens of thousands were left under the rubble and injured. Hundreds of thousands of our people were left homeless and had to migrate. Prisoners in prisons affiliated to your ministry have been given the right to make additional phone calls so that they can meet with their families and get news. Even this right granted to prisoners with humanitarian motives under earthquake conditions was not granted to our clients in Imrali! Moreover, despite the fact that the families of all four of our clients also reside in earthquake zones, though this is how it happened.

In this case, we would like to ask; isn't Imrali F-Type Closed Prison a prison affiliated with you? Is a different legal regime or the law of another country applied in Imrali? Why, for example, can a prisoner in Silivri prison call his family in Urfa, which is an earthquake zone, and find out the fate of his relatives and loved ones, while those in Imralı cannot call their families even once by phone? Or let's ask: Apart from the İmralı Prison, is there any other prison under your Ministry where no lawyers or human rights defenders could enter for forty-three months? Are there any prisoners in any prison affiliated with your ministry whose families and lawyers have not received a single piece of news for 717 days?

Dear Minister,

As a lawyer, you know very well that none of these questions has a reasonable answer that can be explained by law. Otherwise, the decisions of the ECtHR and the reports of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture continue to stand in the middle. Or, you also know that the 24-year-old picture in Imrali is not just a violation of the basic principles of the ECHR, such as the prohibition of discrimination or the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment. What is really at stake is your government's attitude towards the Kurdish question, which is at the root of almost all the fundamental problems in the country, from democratisation to the economy, and towards Mr Öcalan, who can play an important role in resolving this question. The issue is that our clients are held in hostage status in an uncertain and undefined area outside the "legal system". When do you intend to take action to end this hostage status of our clients who are being held in an F-type prison that is your responsibility? Maybe that's the real question to ask. Are you aware of your responsibility as a Minister of Justice?”