Press conference at the Council of Europe: Imrali Prison is a legal black hole!

DEM Party MP Ömer Öcalan and Asrin Law Office lawyer Özgür Faik Erol organised a press conference at the Council of Europe on the situation of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan.

A delegation including DEM Party MP Ömer Öcalan and lawyer Özgür Faik Erol held a series of meetings at European institutions in Strasbourg, France. The delegation is expected to hold a meeting with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) during the day.

'Isolation is against the solution of the Kurdish question'

The delegation organised a press conference on the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan at the Council of Europe on Wednesday. During the meeting chaired by Sarah Glynn, Ömer Öcalan, lawyer Özgür Faik Erol and Cypriot parliamentarian Constantinos Efstathiou spoke to the audience, among them many parliamentarians.

In his presentation, Özgür Faik Erol described the conditions of isolation in İmralı. Erol stated that he has been the lawyer of Kurdish People's Leader Abdullah Öcalan for 17 years and has not been allowed to meet with him since 2015.

"He is being kept under absolute isolation and incommunicado," said Erol, adding that no family visits have been allowed for four years.

"We know very well that this isolation has no legal basis. We also know that it is based on a political and administrative decision," Erol said, adding that the isolation is against the democratic and political solution of the Kurdish question.

Lawyer Erol said, "İmralı is the starting point of Turkey's practice of not recognising the ECtHR judgments" and recalled that the ECtHR's request to establish a conditional release mechanism was not implemented.

'Imrali is a legal black hole'

"As it is, İmralı prison is a legal black hole," Erol said, remarking that Europe's silence on this issue has led to the spread of similar practices in Turkey.

Erol noted that they had taken the ban on lawyers imposed since 2011 to the ECtHR and that the issue had been dragged on for 13 years, reacting to the inaction of European institutions against this "legal black hole".

"For this reason, this unprecedented practice should be rejected before it is too late and effective mechanisms should be developed," the lawyer said.

Ömer Öcalan: Arbitrary practices have replaced the law

DEM Party Urfa MP Ömer Öcalan recalled that there are many legal and political problems in Turkey and said: "The reflection centres of these legal and political problems are prisons."

MP Öcalan said, "In Turkey, where the law is almost suspended, arbitrary practices have replaced the law. Think of İmralı Island prison; his family has not been able to visit him for more than four years. As a family, all our rights granted by law and legislation have been usurped and we cannot use these rights.”

Ömer Öcalan stated that there is no such isolation practice anywhere in the world and asked, "Isn’t it torture that is applied to Mr Öcalan and his three companions?"

‘You can stop the lawlessness in Imrali’

Ömer Öcalan said that the practices that started in İmralı have spread to the whole of Turkey and concluded as follows: "There is a people who have been keeping vigil in front of the Council of Europe for years. We do not know how much is seen and heard within the Council of Europe. We do not know how long they will remain silent and turn a blind eye. The demands are legitimate. Those who defend human rights are on vigil. Our call is, of course, to international organisations, international human rights institutions, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights.  You can stop this lawlessness that Turkey is practising in İmralı. You can take responsibility at this point. The main duty of these institutions is to defend human rights and stand against injustice. At the same time, these values are the values of Europe.  They should also defend the values of human rights and democracy outside Europe. We will continue our struggle and defence of rights. I demand that the relevant European institutions fulfil their responsibilities at this point in their relations with Turkey."

Cypriot European Parliamentarian Constantinos Efstathiou stated that Turkey is among the countries that treat political prisoners the worst.

Regarding the situation of the Kurdish People's Leader, Efstathiou said: "Abdullah Öcalan has been in isolation for many years. We cannot receive information about his condition and health."

Constantinos Efstathiou listed some data on the rights violations in the prisons of the Turkish state and said: "Europe's silence on this issue must be condemned. Europe should take a stand against Turkey. It should put pressure on Turkey because Turkey is a state knocking on the door of Europe."

Constantinos Efstathiou finally expressed his hope that "one day democracy and the rule of law will be realised in Turkey with the pressure of the Council of Europe."