Jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan’s lawyers from the Asın Law Bureau applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to be able to visit their clients in Imralı Prison after Turkey’s Constitutional Court found their application “unacceptable.”
Abdullah Öcalan has been jailed in a high security prison in Imralı Island for almost 22 years. As Öcalan and other inmates in Imralı Prison, Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Ateş and Hamili Yıldırım have been deprived of their rights to be visited by their lawyers and family members, Asrın Law Bureau and the families of the inmates in Imralı Prison have applied to Turkish legal authorities for their right of visit Imralı prison, but their applications have remained unanswered.
Öcalan has been kept under isolation and deprived of his basic human rights. He met his lawyers for the first time in eight years in 2019. Then, he was allowed to make a phone call for the first time on 27 April 2020. The last phone call between Öcalan and his brother Mehmet Öcalan, on 25 March this year, was interrupted and it lasted only for around five minutes.
One of Öcalan’s lawyers, Raziye Öztürk, told MA that since March, there has been no response to Öcalan’s lawyers’ applications to the Constitutional Court (AYM) to allow them or family members to visit inmates in Imralı Prison.
”AYM was actually established to prevent case files being sent to the ECHR. It was established in order to get faster results.We have applied to the ECHR stating that local legislation is not being implemented in Turkey and that the Constitutional Court is not effective at this point,” she said.
Generally, according to the ECHR, she noted, a decision or a local court’s decision should not be theoretical and imaginary, it should be a practical for an effective remedy. “But AYM is like an imaginary institution. All our applications have been rejected and our final application was found to be ‘unacceptable’ by the Constitutional Court. However, they do not respond to our applications, and not at all since March.”
“We have not been allowed to visit our clients in Imralı Prison for such a long time. Legal authorities carry the responsibility to make that happen. Such violations of the laws and rights of our clients increase the heaviness of their isolation conditions,” she said.
Drawing attention to the situation whereby the ECHR should bring their application to its agenda quickly and provide a decision in their favour, Öztürk criticised the ECHR and other international institutions, expecially the Committee to Prevent Torture (CPT) for encouring Turkey by remaning silent on such violations.
“In their reports after their visit to Imralı Prison, the CPT stated that the responses given by Turkey to the ECHR regarding the decisions of violations had been far from being convincing.”
Öztürk noted that the CPT had suggested that lawyer and family visits should be ensured in Imralı. Despite all such suggestions and observations of violations, she said, Turkey has not acted in the suggested way. “Everything is getting worse by the moment. ECHR should make an urgent decision.”
Öztürk warned that violations in Imralı Prison have wide-ranging impacts in other prisons and in the public sphere in Turkey.
“The laws in Turkey are first tried out in Imralı, then applied all over the country. They try to initiate a policy to oppress inmates there and that policy returns back to all peoples in Turkey and the Kurdish people as a tool of oppression.”