Appeal for Öcalan to be heard in the ECHR tomorrow

On Thursday, September 27 the ECHR will hear the appeal regarding Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan being forcibly shaved and the death threats he received in 2008.

This Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) will hear the appeal regarding the physical attack and death threat against Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan that happened ten years ago.

The appeal regarding the attack and death threat against Öcalan was submitted by his lawyers in 2010. The case went to the ECHR after all domestic courts were exhausted.


After Öcalan was forcibly shaved in July 2008, in October of the same year wardens entered Öcalan’s room and physically assaulted him, threatening to kill.

At the time, there had been many protests against this attack in Kurdistan and throughout the world. The then-Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Şahin had issued a statement on October 19 to deny the inhumane treatment of Öcalan.


When the appeals the lawyers made to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Mudanya Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Yalova High Penal Court turned out no results, the case was taken to the ECHR.

The appeal was made on March 2, 2010 to the ECHR with a stress on the violation of the European Convention on Human Rights Article 2 regarding the right to life, Article 3 regarding the ban on torture, Article 6 regarding the right to a just trial, Article 13 regarding the right to effective appeal and Article 14 regarding the ban on discrimination.


The case in the ECHR comes at a time when the isolation imposed upon Öcalan is deeper than ever before. There hasn’t been any contact with Öcalan for over two years. His lawyers haven’t been able to visit Imrali since July 2011. All appeals have been rejected on arbitrary excuses. Family visits have also been rejected on similar grounds.


In the latest appeal by his family made in September, a disciplinary punishment was given as the reason for the rejection. The prosecutor’s office stated that they won’t allow the visit due to the disciplinary punishment Öcalan received on September 14, 2018 from the Imrali High Security Prison Type F Disciplinary Committee. Neither Öcalan’s family nor his lawyers were given information on the punishment.


As concerns regarding Öcalan’s situation rise, there is great curiosity for how the ECHR will handle a 10 year old appeal regarding Öcalan.

Before the court, the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued a report on Imrali in March. The report was declared after much demand and protests to end the isolation imposed upon Öcalan in the public, but did little to alleviate concerns. On the contrary, protests increased as the CPT report was based on a visit in April 2016, not at all touching up on his current situation.

The report about the situation two years ago voiced concerns that Öcalan and the other prisoners had no contact with the outside world and stated that the situation was getting worse. The CPT called for arrangements to be made so the prisoners could meet with their lawyers and families when they wanted, but none of the advice voiced in the report was taken by the Turkish state. The isolation and the silence continue, as the concerns and protests increase.