Jailed Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan:
One year of total isolation in Turkey's Imrali
July 28, 2012
Jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the only
prisoner for a decade on the Imrali Island in the Turkish Sea of
Ocalan was the sole inmate at a prison on the island
of Imrali until November 2009 when the Turkish
justice ministry transferred five inmates and moved
him to a new cell to allow contact between the
IMRALI/ISTANBUL, — For one year the
Turkish AKP government has been keeping the Kurdish
leader Abdullah Öcalan in total isolation on the
prison island of Imrali.
The International Initiative - Freedom For Öcalan -
Peace in Kurdistan has release a statement on the
day marking one year of isolation.
Kurdish leader Öcalan has not been able to meet his
lawyers since 27 July 2011. Ever since him and the
other five prisoners on the island have been cut off
from the outside world. Neither family members nor
lawyers are allowed to visit. Telephone calls or
written communication are also not possible.
The International Initiative underlines that "Even
in Turkish law – which does not tend to be soft on
political prisoners – there is no legal basis for
this total isolation. Each week flimsy excuses like
defect vessel or bad weather are cited to prevent
the due visits from happening. However, Prime
Minister Erdogan as well as Minister of Justice
Ergin have both stated publicly that it is the
government who blocks every visit".
According to the International Initiative "This
demonstrates the complete arbitrariness of the AKP
government whose representatives publicly defend
breaches of the law as soon as Kurdish matters are
concerned. Another scandalous development was the
detention of Öcalan's complete defence team of 36
lawyers who have been in jail for more than half a
The real scandal however, as the statement by the
International Initiative points out, is the "silence
of the foreign countries. The European Convention on
Human Rights is valid in 47 states. For Kurds, it
seems, it is not. At least not for Abdullah Öcalan.
The Council of Europe delegates the responsibility
for the scandal prison on Imrali Island to the
powerless anti-torture committee (CPT) and
deliberately ignores the matter otherwise. Even the
much-appraised European Court for Human Rights was
so far not able to determine the fact of isolation".
The European Union appears "far to busy building up
Turkey as a model country for the Arab world to care
for "shop-accidents" like the conflict between the
Turkish state and its Kurdish citizens" remarks the
International Initiative adding that "in the Syria
crisis Ankara appears far too important for EU and
NATO to press it for human rights and rule of law in
Turkey. The West acts Janus-faced, but this will
backfire as soon as Syrian Kurds, at the eve of the
emerging of a new Kurdish autonomous region, shall
take their place in a new Syria. They will not
forget this hypocritical approach to the Kurdish
Even in a Turkish context Öcalan's total isolation
doesn't make sense. "It was him - recalls the
Initiative's statement - who was able to urge the
Kurdish guerilla to hold up several cease-fires. His
constructive proposals for a political solution,www.ekurd.net
laid out in his Road Map, formed the basis of the
3-year negotiations between the Turkish government
and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for a peaceful
settlement of the conflict. A solution to the
conflict was within grasp; Recep Tayyip Erdogan
stopped the negotiations abruptedly and stepped up
the attacks against Kurdish civil society".
This solved none of the problems but created new
ones. The clashed between Kurdish guerilla and
Turkish army have rekindled, the situation seems
muddy. "But even Erdogan - adds the statement - will
have to realise that the Kurdish issue can only be
solved through dialogue. Therefore the negotiations
have to be resumed to prevent further bloodshed".
Öcalan's actions throughout the last years have
proven that the Kurdish leader is able to play a
balancing role regarding Turkish and Kurdish
interests. This balance is the precondition for a
lasting peace which is acceptable for both sides.
Stating that the ball is now in the Turkish
government's court to put things on track, the
International Initiative's statement ends
underlining once more that "Öcalan's release as a
vital contribution to the solution of the conflict
is therefore inevitable".
Lawyers for Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan have been
denied their weekly meeting with their client since
Various excuses such as "bad weather, no boat
available to Imralı Island" have been used by the
authorities in the attempt to justify the clear
violation of Öcalan's right.
Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-Chairs Ahmet
Türk and Aysel Tuğluk and Peace and Democracy Party
(BDP) Group Chairman Selahattin Demirtaş had made
written applications to the Ministry of Justice to
see the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali prison.
In his last meeting with the lawyers, on 27 July,
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan had made significant
Calling on the Turkish state and Kandil, PKK leader
Abdullah Öcalan said; "I have finished to play my
role. I will take no more steps from now onward to
carry on my role unless I am provided with an area
of health, security and free movement".
Stating that he will not be able to perform an
active leadership under the current circumstances,
Öcalan added that "I had already expressed that I
will no more be able to perform my role under these
conditions, however the attitude of the state and
the AKP is blindingly obvious, they don't take any
steps. Both Kandil and the state's delegation take
me in hand and use me as a subcontractor. From today
on, I give an end to be used as a subcontractor as
my current position harms both the state and the
Kurds. I will no more able to give instructions from
here. Peace talks cannot be held under these
conditions. My situation is similar to that of
Mandela in South Africa. And just like he did, I
will also not attempt to take any steps towards
peace unless I am set free and have a possibility to
move freely. As known, Mandela played his role after
the necessary conditions were provided.
Operations are following one another and neither the
state's delegation nor the KCK has done its part. We
make no headway in this way. Besides the process
does harm to both the state and the Kurds. My
leadership under these circumstances will no more be
for the benefit of Kurds."
Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state,
which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish
state in the south east of the country.
But now its aim is the creation an autonomous region and more cultural rights
for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more
than 20 million.
A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK
The PKK wants constitutional recognition for the Kurds, regional
self-governance and Kurdish-language education in schools.
PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in
Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey,
reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action
against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish
politicians say the measures fall short of their
The PKK is considered as 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its
political wing on the European Union's terror list.
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