Berdan Öztürk, an MP from Turkey’s Kurdish opposition DEM Party and spokesperson for the UEL group at PACE, criticised Turkey’s restrictions on freedom of expression and urged the Council of Europe to uphold democratic principles.

Kurdish politician Berdan Öztürk accused Turkey of Abdullah violating international and Turkish law with Öcalan’s isolation in İmralı Island prison, and demanded accountability from the Council of Europe (CoE), during a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Saturday, calling out its members for ignoring this breach with impunity.


For over three years and three months, Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been held in total incommunicado conditions as part of his 25-year solitary confinement on İmralı Prison Island in Turkey. He has had no contact with the outside world—no phone calls, letters, legal visits or family visits. In addition to this, Veysi Aktaş, a fellow inmate, has been unlawfully denied release, raising concerns about what might be concealed regarding the situation in İmralı prison or any message Öcalan may be trying to convey.

Addressing the Assembly, Öztürk, an MP from Turkey’s Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party and spokesperson for the Unified European Left (UEL) group, highlighted the growing problem of restricted freedoms. “Today, I will emphasise how freedom of expression is systematically restricted in Türkiye. But this is a growing problem everywhere and every instance encourages others,” he stated.

Öztürk celebrated the release of Julian Assange from the UK’s Belmarsh Prison but noted the wider issue of journalists facing prison for revealing inconvenient truths. He cited an example from France, where two La France Insoumise (LFI) politicians were accused of apologising for terrorism after criticising Israel, reflecting similar tactics used in Turkey to silence opposition.

Discussing the recent Kobani case, Öztürk pointed out that members of his party, including former co-chairs and former PACE member Nazmi Gür, had received long prison sentences for their political work. He highlighted the dangers journalists face, such as the arrest of a reporter who covered the incident of Kurdish villagers being thrown from a helicopter, while those responsible faced no consequences.

Öztürk also condemned the isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, pointing out that it breaches both international and Turkish law. “Large and increasing numbers of people are detained for their social media posts or for insulting the president,” he added, criticising Turkey’s refusal to act on rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe’s own inaction.

“If the Council is serious about democracy and freedom of speech, we cannot let Council members ignore this with impunity,” Öztürk urged, calling for decisive action to uphold democratic principles and human rights.