Birtane: Isolation is a problem for the entire society

TUHAD-FED Amed co-chair Eylem Birtane said that absolute lack of communication has spread to all society and added: "Isolation is not only a problem of the prisoners. It is a problem for the entire society."

Political prisoners started a rotating hunger strike on 27 November 2023, demanding "freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and a political solution to the Kurdish question". On 4 April, they brought their protest to another stage and started not to make phone calls and family visits, as well as boycott the court. The "Give voice to Freedom" protest, which is initiated by the families of prisoners in front of prisons in many places outside and carried out every Monday, continues.

TUHAD-FED Amed co-chair Eylem Birtane underlined the importance of the actions and called for protests in prisons to be heard.

Birtane said that aggravated isolation has been implemented in Imralı for more than 25 years and added that they have not received even a single message for more than 3 years. Stating that they are experiencing a process that has turned into absolute lack of communication, Birtane said: "Various actions have been carried out against this system both inside and outside prisons since 27 November. In the first phase of the protest, along with the hunger strikes started in the prisons, Justice Vigils and a 15-day Freedom March took place outside. However, although the actions continued uninterruptedly in the prisons, the outside leg remained incomplete due to various reasons such as the election process. Since the first stage of the protests could not achieve a concrete result to break the isolation, a new phase was started in the prisons as of 4 April. Prisoners have actually been isolating themselves since that day, with the decision to refrain from family visits and phone calls, and to boycott the courts. As relatives of prisoners, we continue our vigils, and we continue to make noise in front of prisons every Monday with the motto 'Give voice to Freedom' in order to give voice to the unheard voice of the prisons."

Isolation has spread to every area

Noting that families who want to make their voices heard by the Ministry of Justice also go to Ankara and try to hold meetings there, Birtane said: "At the same time, 'End the isolation' protests are being held in front of AKP provincial buildings in various cities. Isolation is a crime against humanity. The isolation system implemented in Imralı Island Prison has actually spread to all areas of life. Every individual living in these lands is affected by isolation in some way. It is necessary to realize this. Lawlessness, injustice and anti-democratic practices are all a result of isolation. However, prisons are the most affected by this inhumane system."

Birtane added: "When we look at it today, there are countless violations of rights in prison. There are many violations, such as solitary confinement, burning, lack of access to the most humane needs, keeping ill prisoners inside despite reports saying they cannot remain in jail, and not providing them with treatment. We can list dozens more violations. A political prisoner named Ersin Kazğan, who stays in Bandırma T Type Prison No. 2, has not been released since July 2023, even though he has served his entire sentence. He is being kept inside without any justification, without any explanation, without a single response to the dozens of applications he made. This is one of dozens of cases we know."

Birtane continued: "This is exactly what isolation is. This needs to be read and understood very well. That's why we oppose these unlawful acts to which Ersin and thousands of prisoners like him are subjected to. We have to hear the voices of all prisoners and shout out their demands against the unlawfulness they are subjected to. We are prevented from even making statements that are our most democratic right. This, too, is a form of isolation. We are blockaded and isolated with shields at every press conference. This is where we confront the mentality before us. This is our open call to everyone who wants peace. We reiterate our call to every individual in society, all rights defenders, all civil society organizations to raise their voices against isolation. Isolation is not only a problem of the prisoners. It is a problem for the entire society. We can't get any news from the prisons. Recently, two prisoners lost their lives under suspicious circumstances. We are worried about the violation of rights in prisons. We have to unite to break the isolation on Imralı island and let society breathe. Let's stand against the inhumane system and shout for peace together. We've done it before; we can do it again. We can break the isolation."