Lawyer Turhallı: Isolation goes against Turkish constitution and laws

Abdullah Öcalan is still in isolation on Imrali prison island. Lawyer Cemile Turhallı explains how this contradicts the Turkish constitution as well as international law.

Abdullah Öcalan, is still in isolation on the prison island of Imrali. In Turkish and North Kurdistan prisons political prisoners are on the 169th day of their alternated hunger strike demanding the end of Öcalan as well as the end of the violation of rights in prison.

Lawyer Cemile Turhallı spoke to ANF about the years of isolation in which Öcalan has been kept, its incompatibility with Turkish and international law and the hunger strike.

"There are more restrictions for convicted prisoners than for prisoners on remand, but for them too the prison legislation allows a daily opportunity for lawyers to visit their clients and a weekly opportunity for family members to visit. In view of the fact that the Constitutional Court has found a violation of Mr Öcalan's rights, we are faced with a practice of the Turkish state that contradicts not only its own constitution and other internal laws but also international treaties that it has signed. In addition, it also goes against its own Constitutional Court, which upheld a constitutional complaint in this case."

Talking about the Ministry of Justice's approval of isolation, Turhallı said: "We see here how a government agency makes decisions and takes positions against its own laws and court rulings. The official practice is also in contradiction to the anti-discrimination laws. In fact, the laws should be the same for everyone. Any law that is not applied equally to everyone means discrimination.

On the other hand, Mr. Abdullah Öcalan is constantly working to find a solution to the Kurdish question, not through military means, but through peace and dialogue among all parties. During the period known as 'peace process', the proposed solutions were also taken up and discussed by the government. This, however, made certain circles who prefer war, very nervous. We can now see that in fact the government is acting in an alliance with these circles."

"Turkey is not fulfilling its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe"

According to Turhallı, it is not only Turkish law that is violated by isolation. International law and obligations stated in international treaties are also not complied with. “The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) is an extrajudicial body established in 1987. Its decisions are to be seen as recommendations. In accordance with its underlying convention, the CPT can also meet with people whose freedom has been restricted as a result of state measures during visits to its member states to investigate abuse.

After each visit, the CPT prepares a report based on its findings and suggestions, which is published subject to the approval of the respective member country. As a member of the Council of Europe, Turkey has actually recognized the published decisions as binding. However, here, too, we see that Turkey is failing to meet its fundamental rights obligations as a member of the Council of Europe."

"If Turkey were to implement its own laws, these legal violations would end"

Turhallı said: "The prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is one of the human right that does not allowed any digression. In its report, the CPT calls for an end to this practice and more legal security against it. It is important to know that the CPT publishes findings and suggestions instead of decisions. That is why there are no international sanctions against states that have not implemented these proposals and continued to violate the law. But if Turkey were to implement its own laws and jurisprudence on an equal footing, these legal violations would end."

"Isolation is a breach of the prohibition on torture"

The lawyer continued: "Isolation is generally to be viewed as abuse and therefore constitutes a breach of the prohibition of torture. If a prisoner is denied seeing his lawyer, then this represents a serious legal violation. Applying constitutionally guaranteed law is imposed on all authorities by the constitution. It should not be forgotten that if the authorities performed this duty, it would also create a new opportunity to return to the ideas and prioritization of peace put forward in the peace process by Mr. Abdullah Öcalan. The hunger strike by political prisoners is an expression of opinion sent to the authorities.

The prisoners have taken a political stand by going on hunger strike. This crisis can be overcome by focusing on the illegitimacy of the conditions that led to this psychologically and physically dangerous action. If the demands of the prisoners do not apply to their own situation, but relate to a right that is legitimized in a political and constitutional context, the conditions that lead to this situation must be immediately eliminated. The demand here is that Turkey implements its own constitutional law and its internal laws without discrimination on the basis of political views or identity."