Lawyers apply to visit Öcalan
Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan has been imprisoned on Imrali Island for 22 years under conditions of severe isolation.
Abdullah Öcalan's lawyers Rezan Sarıca, Raziye Öztürk, Faik Özgür Erol and Cengiz Yürekli have applied to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office to meet with their client in Imrali Island Prison.
On March 14, rumours spread on social media claiming that Öcalan had died in prison. Immediately, protests were organised around the world demanding an urgent visit by the lawyers to Imrali.
On March 25, Öcalan was able to talk with his brother Mehmet Öcalan. The short phone conversation happened about a year after a previous call, on 27 April 2020, and it is the first time since then that Öcalan had actual contact with someone outside.
The phone conversation was held under the supervision of the Urfa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and was very short. The call was interrupted pretty soon. Likewise, the phone call by another prisoner on Imrali, Hamili Yıldırım, with his family was also abruptly interrupted. It was reported that the other two prisoners, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş, did not make the phone call they were offered to protest isolation.
All applications for visit have been so far rejected or gone unanswered.
The Imrali Delegation, which was able to hold talks with Öcalan within the framework of peace negotiations, has not been allowed to visit the prison island since April 2015. Since the last visit of the team of lawyers on August 7, 2019, the Turkish authorities have not responded to any of the continuous requests for visits.
The Turkish authorities use the "roadmap for negotiations" submitted to the European Court of Human Rights in 2009 as the justification for the ban on visits by Abdullah Öcalan's team of lawyers.
On the other hand, the investigation launched in 2012 against lawyers of Kurdish people's leader Abdullah Öcalan, Rezan Sarıca, Ali Maden, Baran Doğan, Cengiz Yürekli, İnan Akmeşe, Mahmut Taşçı and Mehmet Selim Okçuoğlu, was picked up again at the beginning of 2021.
The lawyers went to the prosecutor's office and gave a statement. After the statements were taken, the indictment prepared by the prosecutor's office was accepted by the Istanbul 33rd High Criminal Court. Lawyers are accused, among other things, of "membership of a terrorist organization", and appear in court in Istanbul today.
In the indictment, lawyer meetings with Öcalan are presented as a criminal element, as well as the lawyers' refusal to accept the accusations against them. In addition, while lawyer Cengiz Yürekli's use of his right to remain silent was shown as an element of crime, phone calls made by detainees with their families due to their profession were also considered a crime.
The most interesting subject of accusation in the indictment is that statements such as "isolation is being applied to Öcalan" and "lawyers have not been allowed to see him for 300 days" were cited as criminal elements. These were sentences contained in statements made by the lawyers to the press.