For Peace and Democracy in Turkey the Isolation of Abdullah Öcalan Needs to be Ended Urgently
The Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is held in the Imrali High Security Prison F-Type since 1999, has not been allowed to meet with his lawyers since July 27, 2011. From 2015 onwards, his family has visited him just once in September 11, 2016.
Since July 21, 2016, the Bursa Executive Court No.1 has cited the State of Emergency declared in the country to completely deny him all his fundamental rights as a political prisoner. All means of communication including letters, fax messages or telephone calls have been banned indefinitely and without exception. The isolationist measures in Imrali were regularly presented to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
Öcalan’s Importance for Peace and Democracy in Turkey
The Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Ocalan has gained significant trust in Turkey’s civil society, because of his sincerity and vison for all its people and his initiatives during the peace process from 2013-2015 together with pragmatic and reasonable solutions to intractable problems. The meetings between Öcalan and the Turkish states delegation 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. Regrettably these opportunties were squandered because of political opportunism and nationalistic chauvinism. Today, it becomes important to revive the vision and ideas of Ocalan so that they are not forgotten. The responsibility for this falls on public intellectuals, democractic political activists, journalists, civil society leaders to remind people of Turkey and the world that another societal and political framework is possible in Turkey.
The peace process that continued in Imrali Island until April 2015 has been replaced by a bloody war that has taken over since July 2015.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.
Some may ask: Why Ocalan, why not somebody else? In politics the development and maturing of leaders happens over a historical period when those who emerge establish respect and reputation by their actions and ideas amongst the people. Those who are attempting to create an alternative to such leadership are embarking on a futile task. Mr. Ocalan has amassed a wealth of political experience and embarked on a genuine search for peace since 1993. Through his writings, he has shown himself to be a public intellectual with both the vision and policies that could shape the future of Turkey and all it s people.
Many political and social organizations, can play a role in the construction of peace. Being the founding leader of peace is something else. That is why nothing can happen without Ocalan, and that is that. The fundamental problems in Turkey will not be solved as long as his isolation in Imrali continues.
The escalation of conflict has coincided with the total isolation of the leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, Abdullah Öcalan, who from his lonely prison cell on the island of Imrali has been a crucial role-player and a consistent voice calling for peace.
Imrali Prison Island
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.
Abdullah Öcalan’s release, as a vital contribution to the solution of the conflict, is therefore inevitable. To continue to silence and isolate Öcalan is to continue to ignore the Kurdish question in Turkey, and to fail to take concrete steps towards political reforms and democratization. To fail to address this issue humanly and according to international legal norms and values is to highlight that Turkey has no intention to uphold universal human rights.
Leyla Güven is the Co-Chair of DTK (Democratic Society Congress) and HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) MP and has served as a mayor as well. She was arrested on 22 January 2018 for her criticism of the Turkish army’s invasion of Afrin in northern Syria and for other statements she has made as a Kurdish politician in Turkey. She faces 31 years and six months imprisonment for representing her people.
At the third hearing of her case in a court in Diyabakir on November 7, Leyla Güven said, ‘Today the politics of isolation on Mr Öcalan is not imposed on him alone, but on a people in his person. Isolation is a crime against humanity. I am a member of this people. I am starting an indefinite hunger strike to protest the isolation on Mr Öcalan. I will not submit any defence to the court from now on. I will continue my protest until the judiciary ends its unlawful decisions and this politics of isolation is terminated. If need be, I will turn this protest into death fast.’
Spread of the Indefinite Hunger Strikes
The hunger strike action spread inside and outside prisons with the participation of more people all around the world with the motto “Leyla Guven’s demand is our demand”. In addition to political prisoners in Turkey and Kurdistan, Kurds and their friends have launched solidarity hunger strikes, demonstrations and actions all around the world.
According to Mesopotamian Agency (MA), indefinite hunger strikes are being carried out in 23 prisons by 91 prisoners.
8 November 2018
1 person in Diyarbakır D Type Closed Prison:
16 December 2018
- Gebze Women’s Closed Prison: Hacer Halil Yusuf, Ruhşan Bozan, Özlem Özdemir, Ayten Gülsüm, Özlem Söyler.
- Kandıra F Type No:1 Closed Prison: İbrahim Kaya, Umut Çamlıbel, Yusuf Başaran, Güven Süvarioğlu, Rıdvan Güven, Necla Atak.
- Patnos L Type Closed Prison: Mehmet Bozdağ, Cengaver Aykul, Atilla Coşkun Özer, Ömer Kabul, Abdullah Kızılkaya.
- Elazığ No:1 Closed Prison: Metin Serhat, Harun Alkan, Musa Candemir.
- Diyarbakır D Type Closed Prison: Sercan Gümüş, Rıdvan Kaya, Nimetullah Cinkılıç, Hayati Uzman, Cüneyt Aslan.
- Van F Type Closed Prison: Cihan Tamur, Barış Kahraman, Şahin Öncü, Azim Sökemen, Bahtiyar Kemal Hasan.
- Bakırköy Women’s Closed Prison: Esma Başkale, Belgin Kanat, Zozan Kutum, Reyhan Coşmuşlu.
- Diyarbakır E Type Closed Prison: Leyla Güven, Evin Kaya, Kibriye Evren, Hilal Ölmez.
- Trabzon Beşikdüzü T Type Closed Prison: Ali Bektaş, Dılgeş Yaşar, Abdullah Aydın.
17 December 2018
- Tekirdağ F Type No:2 Prison: Ahmet Osman, Seyhan Kurt, Yakup Kaymaz.
- Kandıra F Type No:2 Closed Prison: Sadettin Yaşar, Turan Günana, Mesut Atış.
- Edirne F Type Closed Prison: Ramazan Çeper, Zerdeşt Oduncu, Adem Arslan.
20 December 2018
- Burhaniye T Type Prison: 4 Women
26 December 2018
- Ödemiş T Type Closed Prison: Uğur Çiçek, Abdurrahman Yılmaz, Mehmet Kaplan, Serhat Güzel.
- İzmir (Aliağa-Şakran) T Type No:2 Closed Prison: Mehmet Durak, Tanju Yıldırım, Nihat Ekmez, Yakup Güneş, Ramazan Atalay.
- İzmir Women’s Closed Prison: Rahşan Aydın, Ebru Güden, Gülten Akgün.
- Kırıklar F Type No:1 Closed Prison: Erdal Polat, Abdullah Oral, Sami Öztürk.
- Kırıklar F Type No:2 Closed Prison: Ozan Alpkaya, Halis Dağhan.
- Tekirdağ F Type No:1 Prison: Sinan Çelik, Rıdvan Turan, Burhan Barut, Erhan Aydın, Ali İlhan Bayer.
- Tekirdağ F Type No:2 Prison: Serdar Şahin, Ahmet Sürme, Ümit Akgümüş, Ahmet Arif Yöyler, Roger Tirej Özalp.
- Silivri No:5 Prison: Zafer Sağlam, Abdulselam Akdoğan, Hamza Doğrul, Yusuf Bayram, Halil Ay, Şiyar Yıldırım.
- Silivri No:9 Prison: Seyhan Çiçekli.
- Kırıkkale F Type Closed Prison: Sedat Alçiçek, İsa İpekli, Davud Önder, Emrah Ubik, Kerem İmrak.
- Bafra F Type Closed Prison: Abdullatif Teymur.
- Düzce T Type Closed Prison: Süleyman Benzer, Mehmet Erbey.
28 December 2018
- 12 detainees who continued their hunger strike for 29 days in Kırıkkale Prison, stated that they will continue the strike indefinitely from 28 December.
Nasir Yagiz, Hewler (South Kurdistan, Iraq)
Nasir Yagiz from Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) was detained and arrested for political activity in August 2016, and wasn’t released until February 2017. After he was first released, Yagiz was detained 5 times. Following the last detention in February 2018, he was forced to move to South Kurdistan (Iraq). Yagiz continues his political efforts as a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Hewler (Erbil) Representation member, and has been on an indefinite hunger strike since 21st November 2018.
In his statement he said a fascist dictatorship is trying to take root in Turkey and continued: “If the forces of democracy create a unity in the grassroots, it will be possible to push back fascism. In this sense, the hunger strikes have a historic mission and an opportunity. As long as they are supported by a social embrace and nurtured with various methods of struggle. The Imrali regime is an inhumane regime with international aspects. All international powers are accomplices to this regime. The Imrali prison is run outside of universal legal norms, through piracy and barbarism”.
İmam Şiş, Newport (Wales)
Imam Şiş, a political activist who moved to Wales five years ago, went on a indefinte hunger strike on 17th December 2018 and stated in an interview “We want Abdullah Öcalan to be released. He has not done anything wrong, other than put his people first. The CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture), ECHR (the European Court of Human Rights), or a member of his legal representation need to make contact with Öcalan.“
An Indefinite and Non-alternate Hunger Strike in Strasbourg
On 17th Decmeber 14 Kurdish politician started an indefinite and non-alternate hunger strike in Strasbourg. In their statement they said the following:
“With the isolation of the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, the war policy of the Turkish dictator Erdoğan and the fascist AKP / MHP government is further aggravated. While the entire democratic and revolutionary opposition is subjected to ruthless repression, Imrali’s isolation system is being extended to the entire country and the Middle East.
We have to break the isolation on Imrali. This is necessary to ensure the development of freedom and democracy in Turkey, to stop the massacres of the Erdoğan regime in Kurdistan, to promote freedom and equality between peoples and to solve all existing problems through dialogue.We salute Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-chair Leyla Güven. The hunger strikes taking place inside and outside the prisons have already created publicity, but the CPT (Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) and other institutions are yet to break their silence on the situation of Abdullah Öcalan. We have to break the isolation in order for the freedom of peoples of Kurdistan and Turkey to be achieved, and in order for war to stop. This is a process that requires a price and sacrifice. For this reason, we are going on an indefinite and non-alternate hunger strike”.
Act for Peace and Democracy in Turkey
The isolation of Abdullah Ocalan and the criminalisation of any expression of Kurdish political activity, demonstrates Turkey’s descent towards neo-fascism and barbarism. We call on the international community to raise its voice and for the Council of Europe and the CPT – Committee for the Prevention of Torture to intervene with the government in Turkey to demand an end to Abdullah Ocalan’s isolation.
We ask you to write to the Council of Europe’s CPT and the Council of Europe. In this critical period, please call for (CPT) to intervene urgently to obtain the necessary information in this situation and to remove any concerns regarding the safety, health conditions and well-being of Mr Abdullah Öcalan.
Your support will contribute to giving solidarity to all politicians and prisoners on hunger strike, an act of self-sacrifice to confront Turkey’s politics of intolerance, exclusion, racism, and a refusal to seek a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.
CPT – Council of Europe
F – 67075 Strasbourg Cedex, Tel +33 (0)3 88 41 22 79 Fax +33 (0)3 88 41 27 72
Executive Secretary of CPT, Mr. Regis BRILLAT, E-Mail: Regis.BRILLAT@coe.int
Head of Division for Turkey of CPT, Mr. Michael NEURAUTER, E-Mail: Michael.NEURAUTER@coe.int