Families of Imrali prisoners submit application for an urgent meeting

The families of Abdullah Öcalan and his fellow prisoners submitted an application to the Turkish judiciary for an urgent visit after the seaquake in the Gulf of Gemlik, which was also felt on the prison island of Imrali.

The family members of Abdullah Öcalan and his fellow prisoners applied to the Turkish judicial authorities for permission to visit their relatives. The urgent application was submitted on Friday to both the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office in Bursa and the prison administration of Imrali Island Prison, where Öcalan and three other political hostages of the Turkish state are being held. The urgent application came after the seaquake that occurred in the Gulf of Gemlik at the beginning of the week. The families are demanding reliable information on the condition of the Imrali prisoners.

The seaquake on 4 December had a magnitude of 5.1 and was centred around four kilometres from the coast of the port town of Mudanya at a depth of just under nine kilometres. Mudanya is located on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara in the Gulf of Gemlik. All boats travelling to Imrali depart from there. "The fact that the island prison is located in the earthquake zone raises concerns about the health situation of the families of the prisoners detained on Imrali and requires a review of their situation," the application states. In addition to the family members, lawyer Mazlum Dinç, who is also Öcalan's authorised representative, is also demanding immediate access to the island. The authorities have not yet responded.

Abdullah Öcalan has been in solitary confinement on the prison island of Imrali since his abduction to Turkey in 1999. The last contact with him was a telephone conversation with his brother in spring 2021, which was interrupted after a few minutes. Öcalan last had contact with his lawyers from the Istanbul-baed Asrın Law Office in August 2019. After an eight-year interruption, a hunger strike led by politician Leyla Güven, who has since been imprisoned again, resulted in a total of five visits by lawyers. The last family visit to the island was approved in March 2020. Since then, isolation in the high-security prison has been driven to the level of total incommunicado detention.

Öcalan's three fellow prisoners Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş, who were transferred to the island prison in 2015 as part of the dialog between the Kurdish leader and the government in Ankara, are also affected by the isolation on Imrali. The Turkish judiciary generally uses arbitrarily imposed "disciplinary measures" against the Imrali prisoners as a legal cover for the injustice on the island. The last of these "punitive measures" was imposed in October. The "Roadmap for Negotiations" written by Abdullah Öcalan in 2009, which was submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) as a defense brief, is also repeatedly used as an excuse to prevent visits.