INFORMATION FILE 10.01.2017 The Freedom of Abdullah Öcalan Will Guarantee the Success of the Peace Process in Turkey

The Committee for Freedom of Öcalan c/o KNK Rue Jean Stas 41, 1060 Bruxelles  

Contents

  1. Introduction……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3
  2. 2016 REPORT ON RIGHTS AND INFRINGEMENTS IN IMRALI PRISON  ……………….4-7
  3. IMRALI PEACE DELEGATION IN ISTANBUL……………………………………………….8-10
  4. IMRALI PEACE DELEGATION IN STRASBOURG…………………………………………10-11
  5. TRANSFORMATION PERIOD………………………………………………………… …….11 – 12
  6. EFFORTS FOR PEACE AND RESPONSE……………………………………………………..12-13
  7. IMPACT ON THE MIDDLE EAST………………………………………………………………13-14
  8. ISOLATION…………………………………………………………………………………….14 – 15
  9. ISOLATION: FACTS AND FIGURES……………………………………………………… …….16
  10. THE EU AND THE REALITY IN TURKEY…………………………………………………………………… 17
  11. UNITE and GMB APPEAL TO JOIN AND SUPPORT THE ‘FREEDOM FOR ÖCALAN’ CAMPAIGN………………………………………………………………………………………… ….18
  12. ASSASSINATION PLANS AGAINST MR ABDULLAH ÖCALAN……………………………19
  13. FREEDOM FOR ÖCALAN SIGNATURE CAMPAIGN FORM……..…………………………20
  14. NOTARY APPROVAL………………..…………………………………………………………….21

 Introduction:

In 1998, Turkey threatened Syria with war if Syria did not expel the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan from the country. As a result of this threat, Abdullah Öcalan left Syria and travelled to Europe in order to promote a political solution. However, due to continued pressure from Turkey, Öcalan could not find amnesty in Europe and eventually found himself in Kenya.

rather, it was a war in accordance with international law. It is an armed conflict for the purpose of international humanitarian law On 15 February 1999, Öcalan was captured in Kenya by Turkish special agents in a clandestine operation backed by an alliance of secret services, CIA and Mossad (which was officially accepted by the US State Department at the time). He was abducted and handed over to the Turkish state. The capture of Turkey’s “enemy number one” was claimed by the authorities in Ankara as their victory against the Kurds, who had been waging a mass uprising against the policies of denial and discrimination; a struggle Öcalan had led since the 1980s. The capture of the Kurdish leader was regarded by the Kurds as the outcome of an “international conspiracy”, the denial of the legitimacy of the Kurdish struggle, and involving the security services of several nations. His abduction sparked outrage and major protests from Kurds all over the world.

Öcalan’s capture was followed by a show trial during which Turkish prosecutors sought to portray the Kurdish leader as a “terrorist”. In reality, this was not a fight against terrorism, in

accordance with the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols of 1977. The PKK became a signatory to the Geneva Conventions in 1995.

Since this date, this war was subject to the Geneva Conventions, but this was completely ignored by Turkey and its allies. Despite these limitations, Öcalan was deeply committed to a peace process, and with this in mind he began a new quest for a peaceful solution.

Within this framework, Öcalan used his defence to articulate the case for peace and reconciliation between Turks and Kurds based on the recognition of the Kurds’ cultural and national differences within a unitary state. The defence by Öcalan was very significant, as at the time Turkey was on the brink of a full scale civil war. This stand prevented Turkey from deteriorating into a Turkish-Kurdish civil war.

Öcalan’s lawyers took the case to the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the unfair trial that took place in Turkey. The court ruled in 2003 that Öcalan’s trial was not fair, that his right to fair legal representation had been restricted and that he had faced inhumane conditions in Imrali prison. Unfortunately, the ECHR did not fulfil its role completely and did not attempt to adequately investigate the truths behind Öcalan’s illegal abduction through the international conspiracy and the breaking of the rules of war. This inadequate stand is still encouraging the Turkish state to continue with its policies of isolation, and preventing any pressure on Turkey to engage in a legitimate peace process. During the 16 year imprisonment of Mr Öcalan, the CPT prepared several reports – after strong mass actions (hunger strikes, rallies and signature campaigns) by the Kurdish people – in which they accepted that Turkey was infringing the human rights of Öcalan and keeping him in solitary confinement. This, however, never led to any practical sanctions.

2016 REPORT ON RIGHTS AND INFRINGEMENTS IN IMRALI PRISON

The attempted coup that took place on the 15th of July 2016, in Turkey, has led to drastic changes and upheavals in the legal-political-administrative spheres in Turkey. It is for this reason that we are presenting a report, written by Ocalan`s lawyer, on the developments and infringements in 2016, separating the report into two sections from 1 January-15 July 2016 to 15 July-31 December 2016.

            Mr Abdullah Ocalan has been serving a life sentence in a one-person cell in Imrali Island Prison since 15 February 1999, of this time he served ten years as the only inmate in the prison. Only after ten years had passed was this seen as torture and on 9 November 2009, five other inmates were transferred to the island prison. The inmates known publicly as “the secretariat”, were transferred to the island prison as part of the then ongoing peace process. However, on 26 December 2015, two of these inmates, Mr Nasrullah Kuran and Mr Cetin Arkas, were transferred to Silivri’s No. 9 Prison without their consent. This incident was only coincidentally made public on 5 January 2016. On 6 January 2016, although an application for a lawyer’s visit was made every day to the prison administration, for six days this was not allowed. The visit that was eventually permitted was conducted in a manner contrary to the law, with both a recorder and an official from the prison present at the meeting that was only allowed for fifteen minutes. With this incident, the isolation implemented in Imrali Island Prison was now also being implemented at the mainland prisons.

After these developments, other than Mr Ocalan, Mr Omer Hayri Konar, Mr Veysi Aktas and Mr Hamili Yildirim were left in Imrali Island Prison. All those remaining in Imrali are being kept in one-person cells and isolated from each other. Although they are allowed out of their cells for four hours a day, this is in individual areas adjacent to their rooms and in isolation (this time was two hours for Mr. Ocalan and we have no evidence that this has changed in 2016). The inmates are brought together for only one hour a day (talking or sports).

Due to the fact that the opportunities and rights implemented in other prisons are not afforded to Imrali Island Prison, we are unable to attain clear and accurate information regarding the living conditions and health conditions of the inmates in Imrali Island Prison. These are rights such as family visits, visits by three friends outside of the family, and phone calls. The inmates of Imrali were prevented from having any lawyer’s visits or phone calls for the whole of 2016. Other than the solitary visit by Ocalan’s brother, the other inmates had no visits from family members. When one takes into account all of these conditions, Imrali Prison cannot be deemed a prison that is in accordance with the law and that can be monitored; rather, it is now a unique institution that can be called the Imrali isolation system.

On 18 March 2014, the ECHR decided on four unified cases belonging to Mr Ocalan (Application no.: 24069/03, 197/4, 6201/06 and 10464/07). In this decision, the lack of a parole date, a life sentence “until death” was deemed torture and maltreatment. Mr Ocalan’s sentence is in its 18th year. The government in Turkey has not taken any legal or administrative steps to appease or address this decision. This situation was brought to the attention of the Committee of Ministers of the European Council on 16 June 2016.

  1. DEVELOPMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS BETWEEN 1 JANUARY-15 JULY 2016

Since 27 July 2011, although hundreds of applications have been made, not a single lawyer’s visit has been allowed for Mr Ocalan. The 57 applications for legal visits made to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office between January 2016 and 15 July 2016 were all rejected due to various reasons. These applications were made for Wednesdays and Fridays of every week. 47 applications were denied on grounds of “boat out of order” and 10 were denied on grounds of “bad weather”. Within the same period, family members made 26 applications to the Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. However, all applications were denied on similar grounds.

The isolationist measures in Imrali were regularly presented to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). In the first half of the year:

  • A general briefing was presented to the CPT on January, 2016, on the applications of family and legal visits and their results and the general situation of our clients.
  • In April 2016, a general briefing was given on the applications of family and legal visits and their results and action was demanded of the CPT against the isolation in Imrali Island.

Subsequently, the CPT officially announced on its website that it had visited Imrali Island Prison on 28-29 April 2016. The CPT has yet to release its report from this visit to the public.

It is not possible to say that the efforts of the CPT have made any impact on the isolation of Imrali Island. In June 2016, an application was made regarding the conditions of isolation to the United Nations Rapporteur for the Prevention of Torture. There has been no response from this application, as of yet.

  1. DEVELOPMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS BETWEEN 15 JULY-31 DECEMBER 2016

On 15 July 2016, there was an attempted coup in Turkey. After this attempt, on 21 July 2016, a country-wide State of Emergency was declared. After the State of Emergency 12 decree laws were published in the official gazette on 22 July 2016, in which severe limitations were brought to visits and legal meetings for prisoners, in a way, spreading the arbitrary and unlawful measures implemented in Imrali Island Prison for the past 18 years to the whole country.

According to the 2016/56 D. numbered decision on 21 July 2016, of the Bursa Judges Office, the inmates of Imrali Island Prison were:

  • Banned from having visits;
  • Limited phone rights and written communication;
  • Limited access to documents supplied by the legal team of the inmates.

This decision, to which we have appealed, has no legal basis. The law that has been shown as a basis for this decision is article 114 and 115 of law number 5275, which clearly states it is for detainees and not for those that have been sentenced, it also guarantees that meetings between client and legal representative cannot be blocked in any way. The appeal that was made against this decision was rejected by the 2nd Bursa Criminal Court on 26 July 2016, in decision number 2016/1127. An individual application against these measures and decisions was made to the Constitutional Court on 27 October 2016. The Court is yet to make a decision in this case.

After the coup attempt, headlines like “The Putschists’ Imrali Plan” have increased worries for our clients’ wellbeing. Reports in the media stated that “Imrali Island was going to be bombed on 15 July” and “Ocalan was going to be captured”. Subsequently, all applications were made for visits to Imrali Prison, but all were rejected for the same reasons as stated above. Although the decision is for the termination of written communication, phone calls and regular visits, legal visits are also being denied arbitrarily. Even in the decree laws that were passed, there is no article that bans legal visits to any inmate.

Briefings were given to civil society organisations and rights groups in Turkey regarding these worrying developments. On 19 and 26 July 2016, applications were made to the CPT for them to urgently visit Imrali Island Prison. The CPT visited Turkey between the dates of 29 August – 6 September 2016. The CPT had not visited Imrali Island, but in an official statement declared that they had asked officials about the conditions in Imrali.

These developments led to 50 Kurdish politicians going on hunger strike with the sole demand of establishing contact with Mr Ocalan. The hunger strike, which started on 5 September 2016, ended on 11 September 2016, after Mr Ocalan’s brother, Mehmet Ocalan, was allowed to visit the Island and meet with Mr Ocalan for an hour. In this meeting, which was Mr Ocalan’s first meeting with a family member since 6 October 2014, only Mr Ocalan was seen. This meeting was the only visit to Imrali Island Prison in the whole of 2016. Mehmet Ocalan announced that from what he saw, Mr Ocalan’s health was not looking bad and that no attack on Mr Ocalan had materialised during the attempted coup. All applications for a visit after this visit were again denied and Imrali Island was isolated again for the rest of 2016.

The CPT was once again informed on 16 December 2016, regarding applications for legal and family visits between 19 July 2016 – 25 November 2016. Between 15 July – 31 December 2016, 62 applications for legal visits were made. Within the same period, 54 applications for family visits were made. Apart from the family visit on 11 September 2016, all other applications were denied by the Bursa Judges Office due to a decision to “cease all visits during a state of emergency”.

  1. CONCLUSION

The Imrali Island F Type High Security Prison, which is found within the sovereignty of the Republic of Turkey in the Bosporus Sea, is a prison administered contrary to fundamental rights and freedoms, universal principles and standards and democratic values. The decree laws introduced after the attempted coup have opened the possibility of spreading the unlawful measures implemented in Imrali Island since 2005 to the whole country. These are: the banning of legal visits for inmates, the limitation of time with a legal representative, the presence of a government official in meetings between detainee and legal representative, the confiscation of legal documents and the recording of meetings with legal representatives. These measures, although having no legal base, were being implemented in Imrali Island between June 2005 and 27 July 2011. The legitimisation of these measures by decree laws introduced after July 2016 just goes to show that these measures were actually unlawful, and that Imrali Island has always been governed under a state of emergency.

We would like to give a reminder that Imrali Island was the official and legal location for the peace process that was being conducted between 2013 – 2015, and that Mr. Ocalan was the fundamental actor in this process. These meetings had led to a period of ceasefire, the creation of a political atmosphere for the discussion of a solution, and a pluralist and tolerant socio-political platform. All of these characteristics are in urgent need for the Turkey of 2016. The peace process that continued in Imrali Island until April 2015 has been replaced by a bloody war that has taken over since July 2015. Since this date, dialogue, political discussion, pluralism, fundamental rights have all taken a severe hit.

Under these conditions, in his only contact with the outside world, our client said “We did not end the process. They should only meet me for peace. If they have this intention, we can solve this problem with our projects within a few months”. The previous processes of dialogue and the constructive role that Imrali has played in the past all show that the current isolation of Imrali will only serve to weaken the possibility of peaceful and democratic options for Turkey.

ASRIN LAW OFFICE

06.01.2016

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