Joint letter to the CPT calls for urgent action against the isolation of Öcalan

MPs, trade unionists and academics in Britain wrote to the CPT, urging the institution to urgently send a delegation to İmralı Island where Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan is held in aggravated isolation.

Peace in Kurdistan in Britain has written a joint letter calling for an end to the absolute isolation of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan and for the CPT (Committee for the Prevention of Torture) to immediately send a delegation to the island. In addition to its members, Peace in Kurdistan's letter was signed by renowned linguist Noam Chomsky, former Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Simon Dubbins of Unite the Union, the largest trade union organisation in Britain, Prof. Dr. Michael Gunter, Prof. Dr. Bill Bowring, Prof. Dr. Mary Davis, SNP MP, Prof. Dr. Michael Gunter, Prof. Dr. Bill Bowring, Prof. Dr. Mary Davis, Prof. Dr. Michael Gunter, Prof. Dr. Bill Bowring, Prof. Dr. Michael Gunter, Prof. Dr. Michael Gunter, Prof. Dr. Bill Bowring, Prof. Bill Bowring, Prof. Dr. Mary Davis. Dr. Mary Davis, SNP MP Chris Stephens, Siin Fein MP Chris Hazzard, Mickey Brady, Labour MPs Kate Osamar, John McDonnell, and dozens of academics, trade unionists, writers and journalists.

In the letter sent to Alan Mitchell, President of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, of the Council of Europe, with the title 'an urgent call for immediate and immediate attention', it was pointed out that no news has been received from the Kurdish People's Leader for 36 months now. The letter emphasised that the Turkish state has attempted to transform İmralı Island into a "floating coffin".

The joint letter to the CPT reads as follows:

“We, the concerned members of a network in the United Kingdom comprising various trade unions, Members of Parliament, human rights activists, lawyers and civil society organisations, are writing to you to make an urgent appeal that requires your immediate consideration.

For the past 36 months, Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is seen by millions of Kurds as their legitimate political representative, has been held in an extreme form of incommunicado detention by the Turkish state on the prison island of Imrali. During this illegal and inhumane isolation, Mr. Öcalan has effectively been “disappeared” and dropped into a void of “non-existence,” as he is being denied all contact with the outside world, including his lawyers and close family members.

Throughout this period, Turkey has attempted to transform Imrali Island into a “floating coffin”. Mr. Öcalan, who is now 75 years old, has been subjected to cruel torture through isolation for 25 years but over the last three years, no information at all has been provided concerning his health, giving cause for serious disquiet. At this point, even his whereabouts cannot be confirmed, and his physical condition is a highly sensitive issue for many Kurds who see him as embodying their national voice.

It is for these compelling reasons that we are kindly asking you, the CPT, to take some immediate action, only this will allay any fears. As the CPT, you are legally entitled to visit all places of detention of states which are party to the Convention, and this includes Turkey. This invest you with the powers and ability to send your team of experts to Imrali, where the Turkish government are obliged to grant you unrestricted access to visit where Mr. Öcalan is being held captive and to allow you to interview him in private so he can communicate with you in confidence free from any duress.

We would like the CPT to act in accordance with Article 3 of the CoE Statute, which states that: “Every member of the Council of Europe must accept the principles of the rule of law and the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” Mr. Öcalan is a citizen of a CoE member state that has been denying him his human rights for two and half decades, and for the last three years, has been depriving him of his basic legal rights to meet with his lawyers and speak with his family.

All we ask, with complete sincerity, is that you please carry out your responsibilities immediately by sending a delegation to visit Imrali Island to speak with Mr. Öcalan and check on his well-being. Following that, we would greatly appreciate it if you could encourage Turkey to allow him to receive a visit from his family and lawyers, to bring them in full compliance with CoE and CPT obligations. This would help address an urgent human rights issue and concern for millions of Kurds and could also renew the spirit of reconciliation, which is urgently needed to find a peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue in Turkey.

With gratitude for your time and in the hope that you understand this as a heartfelt plea.”

Presented to you by Turkan Ozcan & Agit Karatas, Kurdish People’s Democratic Assembly of Britain

Co-signed by Estella Schmid, on behalf of Peace in Kurdistan:


  • -  John Austin
  • -  Mike Arnott, President STUC
  • -  Baroness Blower of Starch Green, former GS NUT
  • -  Prof Bill Bowring
  • -  Mickey Brady, MP for Mid Ulster
  • -  Julie Christie
  • -  Noam Chomsky
  • -  Jeremy Corbyn MP
  • -  Maggie Cook, UNISON women activist
  • -  Prof Mary Davis
  • -  Lord Dholakia
  • -  Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director
  • -  Dr Radha D’Souza, writer
  • -  Desmond Fernandes
  • -  Lindsey German, Convenor STWC
  • -  Melanie Gingell
  • -  Christopher Gingell
  • -  Prof Dr. Michael Gunter, Secretary-General, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC)
  • -  Rahila Gupta, author, journalist
  • -  Chris Hazzard, Sinn Fein MP
  • -  Nick Hildyard, policy advisor
  • -  Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru
  • -  George Katsiaficas, Greek-American historian and author
  • -  James Kelman, novelist
  • -  Baroness Helena Kennedy KC
  • -  Jean Lambert, former MEP
  • -  Dr Les Levidow, Open University
  • -  Gawain Little, GFTU General Secretary
  • -  Elfyn Llwyd
  • -  John McDonnell MP
  • -  Mike Mansfield KC
  • -  David Morgan, journalist
  • -  Conor Murphy, Sinn Fein MLA
  • -  Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley
  • -  Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey
  • -  Kate Osamor MP
  • - Margaret Owen OBE
  • - Ali Gul Ozbek, Former Councillor and Mayor of Haringey
  • - Gareth Peirce
  • - Dr Felix Padel, anthropologist
  • - Maxine Peake, actor
  • - Dr Thomas Phillips, Liverpool John Moores University
  • - Father Joe Ryan
  • - Dr Thomas Schmidt, ELDH Europe
  • - Bert Schouwenburg, International Trade Union Adviser
  • - Roza Salih, Scottish politician
  • - Tony Simpson, Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
  • - Stephen Smellie, PIK Trade Union Liaison Officer
  • - Jonathan Steele, journalist
  • - Chris Stephens SNP MP
  • - Gianni Tognoni, General Secretary Permanent People’s Tribunal
  • - Dr Federico Venturini, Associate Researcher, University of Udine, Italy
  • - Dr Tom Wakeford
  • - Dr Derek Wall
  • - Julie Ward, former MEP
  • - Frances Webber, former Vice-Chair of IRR and barrister
  • - Kariane Westrheim, Chair, EU Turkey Civic Commission (EUTCC)
  • - Hywel Williams MP

Additional signatories:

  • - Kim Johnson MP
  • - Rohash Shexo, Kongra Star Women’s  Movement in Europe
  • - Suna Alan, Jiyan Kurdish Women’s Assembly in Britain
  • - Esra Asiye Guden, co-chair of European Confederation of Oppressed Immigrants (AVEG-KON)
  • - Rojin Mikuryani, PhD Researcher at University College Cork, Ireland
  • - Sara Kermanian, PhD Researcher at University College Cork, Ireland