Statement, 26 July 2012


Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan has been forced to endure strict isolation and torture since February 15th 1999. The government of Turkey deliberately constructed a unique and elaborate prison on the island of Imrali to contain Ocalan. While the world is turning a blind eye to this cruelty, every kind of unlawful and unethical practice is being carried out against Ocalan on this island. For the past 13 and a half years, Ocalan has been confined in isolation in a cell of 11 square meters, equipped with no TV and a single frosted-glass window, which can only be opened by a few inches. About 1,000 soldiers are deployed on the island for surveillance of this high security area. This is not the way someone should serve a prison sentence; it is a form of torture.

The law which prevails here and how it is implemented are subject to daily changes at the whim of those in power, making it all highly arbitrary. Although officially a prohibited military zone, Imrali Island has been under the joint administration of military and civilian units working in close contact with the Prime Minister‘s Crisis Centre.

AKP imposes one year of total isolation on Ocalan and the imprisonment of 36 of his lawyers

Since 27th July 2011, Mr Ocalan has not seen or heard from his family and lawyers because of the strict isolation he has been placed under. The Prime Minister himself and the Minister of Justice clearly stated that they will not give the permission for any alleviation of the conditions. They insist that it must continue until a new law is passed against Ocalan. These statements clearly show that there is no legal basis for the isolation of Ocalan and it is a completely arbitrary practice.

Responsibility of the West

When the subject is Ocalan, laws, regulations and treaties of international jurisdiction and all the legal obligations of a normal state are simply trampled on. Unfortunately there have been too few domestic and international organisations which have been ready to question, criticize and condemn this tyranny. The Prime Minister backed this up, stating with pride that Western governments fully supported the isolation and torture of Ocalan. Support from the West is further evident by the lack of protest about the mass arrest of 50 lawyers including the 36 lawyers of Abdullah Ocalan. Although the lawyers’ rights to defence have been violated, the trial still continues.

Ocalan has been kept as a hostage and prisoner on Imrali Island by the Turkish State for the past thirteen and a half years. Neither domestic nor the law of war are made applicable in his case. The European States show their approval for such cruelty by remaining silent against this uniquely oppressive and fascistic system. Thus Imrali Prison Island should not only be branded the Guantanamo of Turkey, rather it should be declared the Guantanamo of Europe.

Ocalan’s captivity is an open declaration of war against the peace process and the Kurdish people

Abdullah Ocalan represents the will of millions of Kurds who have been denied their identity and whose basic and national rights have been withheld from them. Ocalan is recognised as a symbol of the Kurdish question and as an ambassador for peace by Kurds and those who advocate a peaceful solution. Ocalan is an individual who has a key role in solving the Kurdish problem. The isolation, humiliation and torture against Ocalan have increased the rage and anger of the Kurdish people to such extent that they see this as an open declaration of war by the Turkish government.

Since 27th July 2011, for a total of 366 days, or exactly a full year, Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdish people, has not been permitted to see anyone. For a full year, there has been no information about his health and the circumstances in which he is living. His family and millions of people are deeply worried and distressed. If this situation continues, it is inevitable that the consequences will become irreparable.

While this continuing isolation reaches the end of its first year, everyone and especially the European countries and the responsible institutions, such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations, must end their silence and withdraw support from this system of torture. It must be underlined that no matter what the Kurdish people face, they will never accept the imposition of these prison conditions and torture of their leader which flagrantly ignore all moral principles and laws.

We demand an end to these thirteen and a half years of imprisonment and the restoration of Ocalan’s freedom. It should be made absolutely clear that without the freedom of Ocalan, there will be no democracy and peace in Turkey.