Asrın Law Office: Inhuman torture is applied in İmralı as an aggravated form of isolation

Asrın Law Office reacted to the Ministry of Justice's lie that "there is no isolation in İmralı" and said: “The fact that no news has been received from İmralı for more than 3 years is a form of inhuman torture as an aggravated form of isolation.”

Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) MPs applied to the Human Rights Investigation Commission of the Parliament on 7 December 2023 for the lifting of the isolation of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan and the granting of family and lawyer visits. In its response to the application, the General Directorate of Prisons and Detention Houses of the Ministry of Justice claimed that Abdullah Öcalan, who has not been heard from for 38 months, was enjoying his rights and that there was no isolation.

Lawyers of the Istanbul-based Asrın Law Office, which defends Abdullah Öcalan and his fellow prisoners in İmrali Island Prison, made a written statement regarding the ministry's response on isolation.

The statement made by Asrın Law Office on Saturday said, "While the MPs' applications asked about the developments in İmralı since 2011 and especially the conditions of incommunicado for 38 months, it is seen that the Ministry's response limits the evaluation period to 2023."

The statement remarked that, "The disciplinary penalties imposed in 2023 are listed in the response and it is only mentioned that family meetings were prevented due to these penalties. However, the reasons for these disciplinary penalties, why they were imposed in three-month periods (15 March 2023-26 June 2023-27 September 2023) and why the disciplinary proceedings were deliberately concealed from the lawyers are not explained."

The lawyers pointed out that in addition to these 3 disciplinary penalties, another disciplinary penalty imposed on 28 December 2023 was not included in the ministry's response. The lawyers said, "Let us tell you about the fourth disciplinary punishment in İmralı 2023 that the Ministry did not mention: With the decision of the İmralı Prison Disciplinary Board dated 28 December 2023 and numbered 2023/4, the last of the three-month systematic disciplinary penalties was established in 2023. Again, as usual, it was a disciplinary proceeding on a matter that had nothing to do with family visits, imposed in a completely groundless and arbitrary manner, and again, as usual, hidden from lawyers. The execution judge's decisions preventing lawyers, which the Ministry did not specify and which continued in 2023, were also carried out secretly, arbitrarily and unlawfully. The last eight years of İmralı Prison have been interwoven with these systematic and arbitrary disciplinary penalties and bans on lawyers."

The statement continued:

 "In the letter of the Ministry, it is argued that 'as it can be seen in the ECtHR judgments, the communication of a prisoner with his lawyer, relatives or other prisoners should be completely eliminated' in order to be able to talk about the concept of 'isolation'. The Ministry is almost trying to determine the last limits of isolation, which is inhuman treatment. We leave it to the public opinion to assess the untruthfulness of the remark 'the applicant is not prevented from meeting with his lawyers and relatives'. There is not a single lawyer, not a single family member who could go to İmralı in 2023, just as it was in 2022 and just as it still continues in 2024. The torture conditions in İmralı - where all rights are systematically violated, family members and lawyers are not allowed to meet with their relatives in any way, not a single reply is received to the many letters sent to them, telephone communication is not provided, there is no information about their health and conditions, and all ties with the outside world are cut off - cannot be made invisible with such vague statements.

* Since 27 July 2011, there has not been a single lawyer meeting with Mr. Öcalan for approximately 13 years, except for 5 lawyer meetings in 2019 (2 May 2019, 22 May 2019, 12 June 2019, 18 June 2019 and lastly 7 August 2019). Since 6 October 2014, all family visits have been prevented except for 5 family visits (11 September 2016, 12 January 2019, 5 June 2019, 12 August 2019 and lastly 3 March 2020).

* Mr Veysi Aktaş, Mr. Hamili Yıldırım and Mr. Ömer Hayri Konar have not been granted a single lawyer visit during the more than 9 years since they were taken to İmralı. Mr. Aktaş and Mr Konar have been able to meet with their families only 3 times and Mr Yıldırım only 2 times since 2015. All other requests for meetings have been rejected.

* Apart from the phone calls made on 27 April 2020 and 25 March 2021, no other phone calls have been made. The letters sent to İmralı regularly by us have not received a single written reply for the last 38 months.

* Since the phone call was disconnected on 25 March 2021, no news has been received from them in any way.


More importantly, it was announced to the public that although Mr. Veysi Aktaş's 30-year execution period was completed on 28 April 2024, he was not released due to an administrative and arbitrary decision. Our objection to the decision of the Imrali Administration and Observation Board, which postponed Aktaş's release for one year, was rejected on 2 May 2024.

Although we requested to be provided with a copy of the decision, this request was rejected in the decision of Bursa 3rd Execution Judgeship numbered 2024/3518 with the following statement: '...Since the decision of Bursa 2nd Execution Judgeship dated 31 October 2023 and numbered 2023/8937 restricted the convict's meeting with his lawyers in accordance with Article 59, Paragraph 8 of the CGTİHK (Law on the execution of sentences and security measures) numbered 5275, it was necessary to decide to reject the request of the convict's attorneys'. We submit the contradictions between the aforementioned decision and the Ministry's statements that 'meetings are not prevented' to the public's appreciation. However, we would like to draw attention to another important issue.

Article 59 of Law No. 5275 regulates lawyer visits in prison as a whole. While the decision of the execution judge prohibits the lawyer and the prisoner from meeting in prison, it is not possible to prevent taking a sample from a file that has been brought to court on the basis of this decision. The only explanation for this practice is seeking to leave Mr Aktaş and İmralı without a lawyer in the outside world as well as on the island. In this way, while a 'new' 'rule of law' is being constructed, the legislative body is also sidelined. This is a new level that İmralı judicial practice has reached. While a new constitution is being discussed these days, we see that the spirit of the new constitution has broken out in İmralı. Furthermore, Article 59 of Law No. 5275 does not ban the right to a lawyer altogether, but only stipulates that restrictions can be imposed under certain conditions. However, the execution judges go beyond the legal regulation here as well and apply it in the form of completely depriving Mr Öcalan and our other clients of the right to a lawyer.


The fact that no news has been received from İmralı for more than 3 years is a form of inhuman torture as an aggravated form of isolation. Turning İmralı into a legal black hole is not enough to make the politics of isolation and the administrative and political decisions regarding the practice of isolation invisible. It is now obvious that the aggravated and extraordinary regime in İmralı cannot be carried on, sustained and explained. We call on the Ministry and the İmralı judiciary to put an end to the conditions of absolute non-communication and decisions that usurp freedom, and we call on the Presidency of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the members of the Human Rights Investigation Commission and the members of parliament, as well as the public to be sensitive for a democratic legal order and a peaceful future, and to put a stop to these practices."