Lawyers apply to visit Abdullah Öcalan
Asrın Law Office's lawyers applied to Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and Imralı Prison Directorate to meet with their client Abdullah Öcalan, whom they have not heard from since 25 March 2021.
Asrın Law Office lawyers Mazlum Dinç, Raziye Öztürk, Rezan Sarıca and Faik Özgür Erol applied to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and the Imralı Penitentiary Directorate to meet with their client Abdullah Öcalan, who is held under heavy isolation conditions in Imralı F Type High Security Prison. Lawyers also applied to both the prosecutor's office and the prison directorate to meet with other prisoners on Imrali, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş.
On March 14, 2021, 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, 2021, 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.
Lawyers of Öcalan were able to meet their client on May 2-22, June 12-18 and August 7, 2019, for the first time in 8 years. Since August 7, 2019, all applications have gone unanswered.
After Öcalan’s lawyers applied to a Bursa court for an “urgent meeting” on November 22, it came out that two further bans had been issued against the Kurdish leader. The Bursa court rejected the application, citing a 6-month visitation dated October 12 as a reason.
The court also rejected the application of the families for a meeting with their relatives, citing a 3-month family visitation ban issued by the Disciplinary Board of the Imrali Penal Institution dated August 18, 2021.
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 they are expected to appear in court in September.
In the indictment, where lawyer meetings with Öcalan were shown as a criminal element, the lawyers' refusal to accept the accusations against them was also cited as a criminal element. 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 was 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.
Concerns over the situation of the Kurdish people's leader increased after the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited Turkey on September 20-29. In a statement on 3 October, the CPT announced that Imralı F Type High Security Prison was among the institutions it visited.
However, Asrın Law Office reported that the CPT had no meeting with Abdullah Öcalan. Asrın Law Office said on 29 November: “We have heard that Mr. Öcalan did not attend the visit during the CPT's visit to Imralı Island in September 2022.”
On 30 March, 2022, the CPT published its general report on its activities covering the year 2022. borders. In the course of 2022, the CPT organised 16 visits (totalling 140 days), including seven periodic visits and nine ad hoc visits. According to the report, CPT also visited the Imrali Island Prison, where Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held since his arrest and handover to Turkey as a result of an international conspiracy in 1999. The report, however, did not provide any information on the conditions of the Kurdish leader who has been held in incommunicado detention in violation of domestic and international laws and standards since his imprisonment.