Lawyer Bilmez: We must meet with our client Abdullah Öcalan immediately

İbrahim Bilmez, one of the legal representatives of Abdullah Öcalan, said that they were deeply concerned about the news that their client did not meet with the CPT delegation during their last visit to the Imrali prison.

The aggravated isolation imposed on Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in the Imrali Prison has received widespread media coverage after the Asrın Law Office revealed that Öcalan apparently did not meet with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) delegation.

Interviewed by ANF, İbrahim Bilmez, one of the lawyers of Asrın Law Office that advocates the Kurdish leader, emphasized that they must meet with their client as soon as possible in order to prevent the increasing rumours and speculation about the İmralı prison.


Lawyer Bilmez recalled that they have not heard from their clients in the İmralı prison for 20 months, an unprecedented practice in a state of law. Bilmez noted that he and his colleagues have submitted repeated official requests to various state institutions during this period. “We have appealed to the Ombudsman Office, the Human Rights Inquiry Commission of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey, the Ministry of Justice and related departments, as well as European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), United Nations Human Rights Committee. However, our requests have remained unanswered to a large extent,” the lawyer said.


Bilmez said that hundreds of lawyers from Turkey, Europe and the Middle East have also appealed to Turkish authorities to meet Öcalan. He added that several other institutions such as ÖHD, İHD and TİHV have submitted applications to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, following the ECtHR's ruling on the 'Right to Hope' concerning Öcalan in 2014. However, in its reply to the Committee of Ministers, Turkey, which did not fulfill the requirements of the ECtHR judgment, insisted that Öcalan was exempted from the Right to Hope, disregarding even the very international conventions it signed.

Bilmez pointed out that the ECtHR had already condemned Turkey in 2014 precisely over this very exemption from the Right of Hope. “Turkey, with its latest response on the Right to Hope, is literally making fun of the Committee of Ministers in defiance of universal values ​​of law. There is no other explanation. Turkey has been doing this since 2014. Turkey has continued its tactics of delaying and extending things over a period of time. But the Committee of Ministers is also preparing the ground for this, as it has been turning a blind eye to Turkey's action for 8 years. Both Turkey and the Council of Europe discriminate against Mr. Öcalan and other prisoners who received aggravated life imprisonment.”


Noting that the CPT paid a non-scheduled visit to the İmralı prison in September 2022,

Bilmez said that they were pleased to learn about the visit, but they were also worried over a possible negative development. He added that they requested and held a meeting with the CPT in Strasbourg after a while to express their concern over the CPT visit. Bilmez said that their concerns were not addressed during the meeting, and they could not get an answer to any of their questions. He added that their concerns increased further after hearing that Öcalan might have not met with the CPT delegation.


The lawyer emphasized that this atmosphere of uncertainty stemmed from the isolation executed in the Imrali prison, leading to constant speculation on the matter. He underlined that they must meet with their client as soon as possible in order to prevent murky waters. “Mr. Öcalan already said in his last phone call with his brother that he wanted to talk to us, his lawyers. This is the most certain fact for us. We also want Mr. Öcalan to enjoy his right to meet with his lawyers, which is a most fundamental legal right.”

Bilmez stated that the situation in the Imrali prison can neither be explained by laws nor by the constitution, emphasizing the reality of a completely isolated prison where no lawyers, family members or non-governmental organizations are allowed to enter. “Every 3 months, the Imrali Prison administration systematically imposes a ban on family visits and the prison disciplinary board issues disciplinary punishments. Every 6 months, a Bursa court issues a decision to ban lawyers. Turkey cannot tolerate this lawlessness any longer. This isolation and the deadlock on the Kurdish question must be halted as soon as possible. It is well known what Mr. Öcalan has done and can do to come up with a solution to the Kurdish question. His good intentions and political vigour are also known by the state. The government should not approach the Kurdish question from the perspective of winning elections, as the Kurdish issue is Turkey's most structural problem. What needs to be done to resolve this issue is obvious; isolation policies should be lifted, and a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question should be promoted.”