Originally published: https://khrag.org/urgent-call-2024

Dear Friends

We urge Amnesty International to investigate the appalling conditions of Abdallah Öcalan’s incarceration. The Turkish regime has breached all legal standards on political prisoners, including the UN Mandela Rules on the treatment of political prisoners and has disregarded its own laws on the treatment of prisoners. Since March 25, 2021, Mr Öcalan has been held incommunicado in detention. This is cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment. We call on Amnesty International to consider the conditions of imprisonment Mr Öcalan urgently.

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The text of the petition is as follows:

We appreciate the active role played by Amnesty International in 1999 advocating against the death penalty following the abduction of Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan. Knowing that Amnesty International, as the world’s most prominent human rights organisation, is knowledgeable of Mr. Öcalan’s situation and has spoken out in favour of his rights through statements and letters to Turkish authorities in the past, we are once again appealing to you to address his inhumane and illegal prison conditions.

While the death penalty was officially abolished in Turkey, the Turkish state has insisted that Mr. Öcalan’s lifelong incarceration is subjected to long painful, and torturous treatment. This process was first mentioned three years after his abduction, during arguments concerning the abolishment of the death penalty. During those debates it was said that Mr. Öcalan would not be killed “just once, but every day”, and a year later, Secretary-General of the Turkish National Security Council Tuncer Kılınç declared that they would “kill him piecemeal.” Consequently, for the past quarter of a century, a ‘rule of lawlessness’ characterised by a permanent suspension of all laws and human rights conventions has been implemented on Imrali Island, where Mr. Öcalan is being held in solitary isolation since 1999.

The Council of Europe (CoE), of which Turkey is a member state, and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) are responsible for monitoring the detention conditions of Mr. Öcalan. These institutions have a legal obligation to ensure that member states comply with international legal standards. Unfortunately, in this case the CPT and the Council of Europe have not effectively followed through in their solemn duties and appear to be restrained by geopolitical considerations.

Since March 25, 2021, Mr. Öcalan has been hidden from the world, with no information provided on his health or safety. He has been held in a state of incommunicado detention, a policy pursued by Turkey to cause psychological trauma to the Kurdish people and collectively punish them for following his political philosophy of liberation.

The issue of Mr. Öcalan’s freedom is not just an individual matter of human rights, as unravelling this Gordian knot can also transform the forty-year-old Turkish-Kurdish armed conflict into a promising peace process. Mr. Öcalan is accepted by millions of Kurds as their legitimate representative and was the primary interlocutor during the dialogue between the Kurdish representatives and the Turkish state from 2013 to 2015 aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. On 21 March 2013, when Mr. Öcalan initiated this process by announcing a unilateral cease fire, Amnesty International welcomed this development and stated that “respect for rights must be at heart of negotiations”. The persistent violations of Mr. Öcalan’s basic rights represent an attack on the Kurdish people and a decisive step to eliminate the possibility of achieving peace and must not be tolerated by the international community.

Kurdish leader Mr Abdullah Öcalan must be allowed to meet with his lawyers and family in accordance with Turkish and international law. We therefore call on Amnesty to put public and political pressure on Turkey by initiating an International Urgent Action Campaign.

Thank you for your ongoing attention to this matter and consideration.