UN calls on Turkey to end imprisoned PKK leader’s absolute isolation
The United Nations Human Rights Committee (OHCHR) called on Turkey to end imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan’s absolute isolation.
Following Ocalan’s lawyers’ application submitted at the end of 2022, the OHCHR urged Turkish authorities to end the absolute state of “incommunicado” of Ocalan and four other inmates of Imrali Prison and to grant them an immediate and unrestricted access to lawyers of their choice, Ozgur Erol from Asrin Law Office told Mezopotamya news agency on Monday.
Erol, one of Ocalan’s lawyers said the OHCHR gave time to Turkey until the end of March to present a response, adding that their request to Turkey’s Justice Ministry for a meeting with Ocalan remains unresponsive.
Abdullah Ocalan, the founding leader of the PKK has been held in an F-Type High Security Prison on Imrali Island since his capture in 1999. Ocalan who was convicted to life in prison over treason charges, was kept under severe confinement and held incommunicado for the last 22 months.
The last contact with Ocalan occured in March 2021, when he spoke with his brother Mehmet Ocalan very briefly over the phone as the conversation was cut off abruptly after only a few minutes. His lawyers last received information about him in August 2019.
For the last 22 months, no news has been received from Ocalan and his fellow PKK-member inmates Omer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktas and Hamili Yildirim.
“We are facing a ban that has been going on since 2011. There is no other prison in the world where the entrance of lawyers has been prevented to this extent for 12 years. At this point, Imrali Prison has exceeded the conditions of the Guantanamo,” Erol said.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in March 2014 said that Turkey violated the rights of Ocalan and other political prisoners both due to the inhumane conditions of severe solitary confinement, and also due to the aggravated life imprisonment in Turkey being a sentence disregarding any possibility of conditional release.
Last month, 350 lawyers from 22 countries around the world applied to Turkey’s Justice Ministry with a request to meet with the PKK leader, saying the deepening isolation was violating the international agreements on prevention of torture.