Lawyer Ilknur Alcan: Imrali system destroys any hope for peace

Ilknur Alcan, co-chair of the Association of Free Lawyers, underlined that the isolation on Imrali destroys any hope for peace.

23 years ago, the Kurdish people’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, was abducted in Kenya and brought to Turkey by an international conspiracy led by the US secret service CIA. He has been in total isolation on the prison island of Imrali ever since. A special law is enforced in Imrali that has no equivalent in the Turkish Enforcement Act, the constitution or international law. The isolation system implemented in Imrali spread from there to prisons across the country. The co-chair of the Association of Free Lawyers (ÖHD) Ilknur Alcan spoke to ANF about the special system created for Imrali.

“Isolation has spread to the country”

"Whatever violation we see in the country’s prisons we saw it first in Imrali," said Alcan adding that "for example, at the moment, many violations of rights in prisons are being committed under the pretext of the coronavirus epidemic. Restrictions were enforced on both telephone contacts and visits. These restrictions have all been previously implemented in Imrali system."

Lawyers must be able to visit their clients

Alcan emphasized that the prison system in Turkey is actually very clearly regulated and added: "The constitution and international law determine the rights of the prisoners. The regime in Imrali is beyond all of that. This special legislation [applied in Imrali] violates decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, the Constitutional Court, the Constitution of Turkey and the Turkish Executive Law. Abdullah Öcalan has not had a visit from his family or his lawyers for years. He was once able to exercise his right to a phone call. This happened only with the permission of the Public Prosecutor Office. This is something never used before against other prisoners. The conversation was then interrupted in the middle. Both the legal office Asrin and our office have submitted requests for visits to their clients. We recently published the appeal of 750 lawyers demanding that the prisoners can finally meet their legal representatives. That is a vested right. The current practice is a criminal offense."

Such a practice only exists in Imrali

Alcan said that the ÖHD has contacted the European Court of Human Rights. "Turkey has been given until the autumn to comment. The increased life sentences cannot be analysed without speaking about the situation of Abdullah Öcalan. There is no other practice like this anywhere else in the world. It's also a legal question. With regard to the increased life imprisonment, the European Court of Human Rights states that people cannot be imprisoned indefinitely and that the decision must be reviewed from time to time. Legally this is called the right to hope. However, it is not applied in Turkey. As I said, it all started with the prison regime on Imrali. Isolation is spreading to both social life and prisons. This has many economic and socially damaging aspects. Furthermore, by isolating the person the state actually held peace talks with, the Turkish state is destroying any hope for peace in Turkey."