Asrın Law Office: İmralı Island is kept behind a veil of secrecy

Drawing attention to the isolation in İmralı, Asrin Law Office said: "We cannot hear from Abdullah Öcalan, there is a veil of secrecy in İmralı". The office emphasized that a heavy torture model is applied in İmralı.


The Istanbul-based Asrın Law Office made a written statement about the state of incommunicado with their clients, Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş, who are kept in İmralı F Type High Security Prison and have not been heard from since 25 March 2021.

Asrın Law Office underlined that despite all judicial and administrative applications, they have been prevented from any contact with their clients from whom they have not heard for 3 years. Asrın pointed out that the island of İmralı, where the state of absolute non-communication is maintained through unlawful practices, is kept behind a "veil of secrecy".

The statement released by Asrın Law Office on Monday reads as follows:

“We have not received a single piece of news from Mr. Abdullah Öcalan, Mr. Ömer Hayri Konar, Mr. Hamili Yıldırım and Mr. Veysi Aktaş, who are held in İmralı Island Prison, for exactly 3 years since 25 March 2021. After Mr. Öcalan's phone call with his brother was interrupted for an unknown reason on 25 March 2021. No contact has been allowed despite all judicial and administrative applications made by us uninterruptedly.

The current state of absolute non-communication is maintained through de facto and arbitrary practices as well as 'judicial decisions' that have no basis in Turkish legislation. The disciplinary penalties that are cited as reasons for the ban on family visits and the decisions that prevent visits by lawyers are contrary to the legislation and constitute a criminal offence for the authorities. In addition, the right to correspondence and telephone communication is not recognised. However, in accordance with the Mandela rules, it is not possible to completely cut off contact with the outside world. Under all circumstances, minimum communication of prisoners with the outside world must be ensured. Not only are the minimum criteria not fulfilled, but also the files and decisions on which these practices are based are hidden from lawyers. With these practices, İmralı Island is kept behind a veil of secrecy. Access to the slightest information about the current situation of our clients held in an island prison has been prevented for 3 years without interruption, especially by their families and our lawyers. We do not have any information about our clients' right to health and other fundamental vital rights guaranteed under domestic and international law.

Absolute non-communication, which has no other examples in the historical process, is a severe torture model. As a result of our application to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for an immediate end to the absolute non-communication, which is applied as a dimension of this torture regime and has no equivalent in the legal order, the Committee has issued a cautionary decision.

In September 2022, the Committee called on the Government of Turkey to 'put an end to the incommunicado detention to which the applicants are subjected and to provide them with immediate and unrestricted access to a lawyer of their choice'. In January 2023, the Committee again urged the Government to comply with this measure, as it had not been complied with. However, the Government, once again ignoring domestic and international law, did not implement the injunction and persisted in its policy of absolute non-communication.

The CPT visited İmralı prison in September 2022, when the state of absolute noncommunication continued to deepen. However, it has still not released its report on this visit, nor has it made a minimum public statement on our clients’ health and conditions of detention. Again, the European Court of Human Rights has refrained from deciding on the critical application concerning the isolation practices in İmralı prison, although it has been before it for 13 years. Undoubtedly, this attitude of the Council bodies together with the government confirms the truth that the practices in İmralı are not based on legal decisions but on political decisions taken at the international level.

It is also clear that the regime of absolute isolation targets the democratic, ecological and women's liberationist social proposal developed by Mr Öcalan. The strong solution projects he has put forward, the struggle he gives in favour of the peoples, and the intellectual and ideological power he has produced despite the severe isolation regime have become the most alternative life model against the politics of polarisation and war not only in Turkey but also in the entire Middle East. Therefore, ending the isolation regime imposed on Mr Öcalan will be the biggest step towards the reconstruction of democracy in Turkey and the Middle East.

It has been clearly seen that the policies of absolute non-communication applied to Mr. Öcalan are reflected in every aspect of life. As the isolation policies implemented in İmralı deepen, the multiple crises that the peoples of Turkey are dragged into, especially the Kurdish question, are growing. The only way out of this multiple crisis and the only way to build a democratic and peaceful society is to ensure Mr. Öcalan’s connection with the outside world. In order to overcome the historical and social problems in our geography, it is of vital importance to end the isolation, which is a state of absolute miscommunication.

While the masses, who are aware of this reality, are raising their reaction in every field, the attitude of "turning a blind eye" manifested by the politics, law, civil society and all intellectuals who are responsible for pioneering the society is unacceptable. On this occasion, we call on the relevant interlocutors to speak the truth and claim their primary responsibilities.

In this respect, we would like to reiterate that; all the rights of our clients, especially the right to see a lawyer, must be provided immediately without any restrictions, as per the responsibility and obligation required by the principles of domestic and international law. The 3-year-long state of incommunicado, which has caused great concerns among us as their lawyers and the majority of the society, must end and the injunction of the United Nations Human Rights Committee must be complied with."