Lawyer Bilmez: Turkey has lost its credibility

The Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative (TDI) and Human Rights Association (İHD) Istanbul Branch held a symposium titled "Equality and the right to hope".

İbrahim Bilmez, one of the lawyers of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan, said at the symposium titled "Equality and the right to hope" organized by the Solidarity with Prisoners Initiative (TDI) and the Human Rights Association (İHD) Istanbul Branch that  “Turkey has lost its credibility."

IHD Istanbul Branch President Gülseren Yoleri reminded the participants about the 2022 report they prepared on the violations they detected in the prisons in the Marmara Region.

Yoleri underlined that violations of rights against prisoners are increasing, and emphasized that there are many violations, especially of the right to life in prisons.

Drawing attention to the violations in the context of torture and ill-treatment in particular, Yoleri added that at least 3,000 violations were experienced during 2022.

Yoleri also mentioned the violations in the field of communication and said that the detainees are isolated from life.

Lawyers Gülizar Tuncer, Gül Altay and Ibrahim Bilmez attended the first session moderated by lawyer Jiyan Tosun.

Ibrahim Bilmez, a lawyer from Asrın Law Office, in his presentation titled “Imralı Island Prison practices contrary to the principle of equality”, drew attention to the fact that Imralı is not governed according to the Turkish legal system, but by a special system.

Emphasizing that the Kurdish people accept Abdullah Öcalan as their leader, Bilmez said that he is an important actor in the context of the Kurdish issue.

Bilmez said that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) also evaluates Imrali as a torture system, and added: "Our clients are constantly given disciplinary punishments to prevent visits. We are not informed of these punishments. We find out later about them. Such disciplinary punishments are given to prevent family and lawyer visits. The CPT said that the reasons for these disciplinary sanctions were not convincing. Turkey has lost its credibility. We have not heard from our clients for 2 years. Neither families, nor lawyers have been granted a visit. No fax, no letter is going or coming from prison."

Bilmez continued: “This situation has repercussions all over Turkey. For example, there was no such thing as aggravated life imprisonment. It was brought along after Mr. Abdullah Öcalan was brought to Imrali. We don't even know how many people it is applied to today. The regulation regarding the recording of lawyer-client meetings spread from Imrali to the whole of Turkey. There is also a political dimension to this issue. The Kurdish issue remains unresolved. Isolation in Imrali makes the Kurdish issue insoluble. This is very clear. For 20 years, whenever there is a relaxation in the isolation and a visit is made to Mr. Öcalan, then an optimistic picture emerges as to a possible solution to the Kurdish issue. People in Turkey are strangled by the economic crisis. We cannot deal with this issue independently of the Kurdish issue. Would it be wrong to say that the billions of dollars spent in the war weakened the Turkish economy? But this is not fully shown to society. It is also a responsibility.”