Paul Scholey, senior partner of the law firm Morrish Solicitors and also a member of the İmralı Peace Delegation, answered Medya Haber’s questions. Scholey said about the isolation imposed by Turkey on Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, “It is in breach of international law”.
Abdullah Öcalan has been imprisoned for more than 22 years in İmralı Island Prison in Turkey. Kept in solitary confinement during the whole time, he has also been systematically denied access to his lawyers for the past ten years, apart from a few exceptional periods.
Paul Scholey is part of the İmralı Peace Delegation, which has members from various countries including Iceland, India, Italy, the USA and the UK, and from various backgrounds including prominent politicians, trade unionists, academics, lawyers and social movement activists. The delegation closely follows the situation at İmralı Island Prison, and calls on the international community to pressurise Turkey to lift the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan.
“Mr. Öcalan has now been in isolation for 22 years. When our delegation to İmralı Island happened in February-March 2019 he had for years had no access at all to lawyers or even friends or family members. And there was after that time a short period when some access was made available, but my understanding is that for many months now once again he’s had no access to lawyers, friends or family,” Scholey said. “That’s not only in breach of international law, but it’s in breach of Turkey’s own law,” he added.
Paul Scholey also referred to Abdullah Öcalan as the Mandela of the Middle East, and expressed that there was a great deal in common between the two leaders, and that the freedom of Öcalan is the key to unlocking the Kurdish problem for the future.
He said that the Freedom For Öcalan Campaign has tried in all manner of ways to bring this issue to wider European and international attention, and said that the matter remains one of the great unreported injustices anywhere in the world.
“The Turkish government continues be unwilling to engage with Öcalan and the Kurds in a sensible way,” he stated and emphasised that through the campaign they can announce these issues to people.
“For this reason, the Freedom For Öcalan campaign is an absolutely essential tool in bringing this to the wider public attention and I’m sure when people know more about it they’ll be just as engaged in it as they have been historically with other injustices,” he said.