Report of the February 2021 İmralı Peace Delegation

On the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of the abduction of the leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, Abdullah Öcalan, an international peace delegation convened for the purpose of a virtual fact finding mission. The delegation consisted of ten members, including prominent politicians, trade unionists, academics, lawyers, and social movement activists, hailing from a diverse array of countries, including Iceland, India, Italy, the US, and the UK. Together, we sought to continue the tradition of former delegations who have come to Turkey in recent years in support of the reopening of the peace process between the Turkish authorities and the Kurdish leadership, which was abruptly ended in 2015.


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It is our conviction that, like Nelson Mandela, Abdullah Öcalan is a crucial role player for the construction of a peaceful and democratic resolution to the ongoing conflict between the Turkish state and the Kurdish freedom movement. We thus believe that the time has come not only for an end to the isolation, but in fact for the freedom of Mr. Öcalan, since, as Mandela once said, “only free men can negotiate.”
Prior to our meetings we had written to the Turkish Minister of Justice, Mr. Abdulhamit Gül, asking his assistance in arranging that our delegation be given permission to visit Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı Island virtually. We also requested a virtual meeting with the Minister. There was no response.

During our fact-finding mission, we met with Kurdish politicians, representatives of the women’s movement, trade union leaders, human rights activists, lawyers’ associations, and members of Abdullah Öcalan’s legal team, all of whom briefed us on the atrocious human rights situation in Turkey, with a special focus on the oppression of the Kurdish people and women.
Our interlocutors consistently conveyed a marked deterioration of human rights in Turkey—across all the fields we covered—conditions in prisons, women’s rights, trade union rights, political rights. As a spokesperson for the Human Rights Association emphasized: “Turkey is under an authoritarian regime, which is showing all its features.”