Serbay Köklü, one of the lawyers of Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), said that the fact that severe solitary confinement imposed upon Öcalan and other prisoners sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment could still be practiced was partially due to the ‘blind eye’ policy of international agencies and institutions.
Referring to a report published a year ago by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture, Köklü underlined that the CPT’s report called for a change in the execution of solitary confinement policies [widely referred to in the Kurdish movment as ‘isolation’] in Turkey:
“The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture released a report in August of last year. The report clearly called on the prison administration to immediately enable meetings with family members and lawyers, and for an overall change in the prison’s implementation regime. While Turkey was required to implement a change in the practice in September, it did just the reverse, increasing restrictions and even imposing new restrictive measures. And the CPT, instead of following through on its own report, chose not to visit İmralı Prison on its next visit in January 2021, dropping it from its agenda.”
Indicating that they’d filed cases not only in Turkish courts but in Europe as well, Köklü said the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) still hasn’t ruled on a case filed in 2011:
“The case we filed in 2011 is of great significance. Here it must also be noted that lawyers have only been able to have five meetings at the İmralı Prison within the last 10 years. In the meanwhile lawyers have been arrested and detained in serious operations. Öcalan’s ties with the external world have been totally ruptured for a long time. So we had filed a case on isolation with the ECHR back then. There is still no ruling on that case.”
Indicating that the ECHR usually reached a ruling in similar cases within a maximum period of seven years, Köklü said that this delay and the state of passiveness encouraged the Turkish state to carry on with its current policies.
He also emphasised that the execution regime in İmralı had in fact become the new legal norm for other cases of aggravated life imprisonment in Turkey as well as it met with no decisive international opposition.
“This execution regime, the system which disallows any possibility of release, which has now began to be practiced initially at İmralı,” he said. “This has gradually become the norm. The current Turkish penal execution law, the anti-terror law, all which define the penalties against social opposition have actually now began to be implemented as ‘Öcalan laws’ since 2005.”