Asrın Law Office: End the torture; open the doors of İmralı!

Asrin Law Office announced that the release of Veysi Aktaş, one of the prisoners held in İmralı, was postponed for 1 year, demanding, "End the torture in İmralı; the doors of İmralı must be opened towards freedom.”

No news has been received for 38 months from Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan, Hamili Yıldırım, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş in İmralı F Type High Security Closed Prison, who are held in İmrali Island Prison in the Sea of Marmara.

Lawyers of Asrin Law Office held a press conference at the office building in Beyoğlu, Istanbul on the detention process of their imprisoned clients.

Lawyer Rezan Sarıca pointed out that the state of "detention" in İmralı is not limited to bans and disciplinary penalties, and said, "It is a level of absolute incommunicado, in which they cannot have physical contact with their lawyers and families, and even minimum communication is not allowed through a prevention of their communication by phone and letter. This state of prevention continued in the event of the death of close family members, epidemics and earthquakes that the families of our clients were directly exposed to. After the interrupted phone call on 25 March 2021, it was not possible to hear from all 4 of our clients again. Under these circumstances, we have no information about the health and detention conditions of our clients."

The release of Veysi Aktaş prevented

Sarıca stated that the 30-year sentence of Veysi Aktaş, who was held in İmralı, ended on 28 April, but his release was prevented:

"According to the legal status summary previously prepared by the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, Aktaş was supposed to be released on 28 April. During this period, due to the absolute isolation conditions in İmralı, we wanted to at least provide legal assistance by letter and get his views on the release procedures. For this purpose, we sent him registered letters with return receipt on different dates. However, we did not receive a reply to those letters. Due to the isolation conditions, we cannot even confirm whether the letters reached him or not. We have also applied to the prosecutor's office and the Execution Judge recently as a precautionary measure and requested that we be given a copy of the execution documents in order to provide legal assistance to our client. However, these requests were also left unanswered.

‘A crime of duty committed’

As his lawyers, we made attempts on 28 and 29 April to meet Mr Aktaş or to find out if there were any obstacles to his release and to make the necessary objections. Unfortunately, we were verbally informed by the Imrali Prison Administration that his release was postponed for 1 year by the decision of the observation board. This decision is clearly against the law and means the usurpation of Mr Aktaş's freedom. It is not legitimate to take this decision with unfavourable regulations of the law. On the other hand, we have not been handed the decision on the 1-year postponement despite our request. Both our request petitions and our objection petitions, which we are authorised to submit as his lawyers, were not received by the relevant authorities, and a crime of duty was committed by not even processing them.

The prevention of Mr Aktaş's release, the rejection of applications on this issue, and the lack of information make the situation of our clients, who have been held in a state of incommunicado for 38 months, even more sensitive. Beyond the prevention of lawyer and family visits, İmralı is kept closed to visits by monitoring mechanisms, including visits by different individuals and institutions, and contact is not allowed even in cases such as the death of close relatives, severe illness and natural disasters, and requests for information about our clients are left unanswered, The refusal to authorise the release of the CPT report, the failure to comply with the UN Human Rights Committee's request for cautionary measures despite the elapsed time, the fact that Mr Aktaş was not released despite the expiry of his conditional release period, and the fact that this process was carried out without a lawyer are developments that justify maximum suspicion.

‘Complaints against those responsible are left unanswered’

Despite their advancing age, our clients have been held for a very long time in harsh prison conditions that are detrimental to their health. In addition to chronic health problems, it is inevitable that they have a series of health problems due to both age and the harsh prison conditions they have been held in for a long time. Despite the allegation that the treatment our clients have been subjected to is torture and inhumanity, the Execution Judges, who are responsible for monitoring the execution conditions of the convicts and ensuring their relations with the outside world, are in the position of the authority directly issuing the prohibition decisions that justify the incommunicado detention. However, complaints and criminal complaints against those responsible are left unanswered and no investigation is carried out.

‘We expect the authorities to fulfill their legal responsibilities’

In accordance with universal legal norms and human values, every initiative to be developed against torture also has a high value for making the country sensitive to democracy and human rights. For this reason, we expect sensitivity from everyone who feels responsible, and we expect the authorities to fulfill their legal responsibilities as soon as possible and put an end to torture immediately.

The doors of İmralı must be opened towards freedom.

Mr Aktaş, who has been deprived of his freedom despite having completed 30 years of execution, must be released without delay.

We submit our expectations for an immediate end to the 38-month detention conditions to which our clients in İmralı have been subjected, and for them to be allowed to meet with their families and lawyers, to the attention of all those who are in favour of rights and law, democracy, humanitarian conscience and values."