International Initiative expresses concern over Ocalan’s wellbeing

PRESS STATEMENT

8 January 2016

Concerns about Abdullah Öcalan’s life: What is happening in Imrali Island Prison?

While Öcalan’s and Imrali Island’s total isolation continues since April 2015, now two inmates have been removed from the island and isolated elsewhere. This gives rise to the question: What is happening in Imrali? Is Öcalan’s life in danger?

The Imrali island prison is the Guantanamo of Europe. Over the 17 years of Öcalan’s imprisonment it has had an arbitrary and continuous aggravated isolation regime in place[1]. Bringing in a few other prisoners in 2009 has not removed this regime–on the contrary: the number of persons subjected to an aggravated isolation regime has increased. This regime has only relaxed slightly while a political process was in place; when there is no process the isolation regime turns into total isolation with no news from prisoners, no lawyer-client consultations, family visits, letters or telephone calls for any prisoner in Imrali (Öcalan is denied the right to phone anyway). Continue reading

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Council for the Prevention of Torture reports on visit to Imrali island

imraliFollowing the publication of the EP’s resolution on the 2013 Turkey Progress Report, another European institution has put Turkey under the spotlight this week, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). The CPT visited the island of Imrali in January 2013 and laid out their finding in a report, which is available to download here.

The CPT found that Abdullah Ocalan is being denied the same amount of open air time as the five other prisoners, and that he is not still allowed to have contact with them during his outdoor exercise despite earlier recommendations that this should be allowed. They add, “Out of a total of 168 hours per week, prisoners could stay outside their cells for up to 36 hours (22 for Abdullah Ocalan), but they were able to be in contact with other inmates for only 8 hours per week; in other words, they were being held in solitary confinement for 160 hours a week.”

The CPT goes on to say: “More generally, the CPT must stress once again that the regime applied to prisoners serving a sentence of aggravated life imprisonment suffers from a fundamental flaw and and should be revised not only at Imrali prison but in the prison system as a whole….as a matter of principle, the imposition of such a regime [of isolation] should not be the automatic consequence of the type of sentence imposed. The Committee wishes to stress that life-sentenced prisoners (as indeed all prisoners) are sent to prison as punishment and not to be punished within the prison.”

The report reveals the torturous levels of solitary confinement suffered by the prisoners, especially Ocalan. At one point in 2011, Ocalan was held in continuous cellular confinement for a total of 240 days as part of a disciplinary punishment, far exceeding the CPT’s owen recommendations to impose this kind of solitary on an inmate for just 14 days at a time. “Such a state of affairs is totally unacceptable”, the report concludes.

Continue reading