Lawyers launch international petition against the isolation of Öcalan

Lawyers launched an international petition campaign against the isolation of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, emphasizing that the isolation threatened peace, had torturous aspects, and should end immediately.

Lawyers launched an international petition campaign against the isolation of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, emphasizing that the isolation threatened peace, had torturous aspects, and should end immediately.

The international petition campaign, demanding an end to the isolation of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan and addressing the European Council (EC) General Secretariat and the Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT), began in Greece. Öcalan’s lawyers met with bar association and lawyers’ organization representatives in Greece regarding the petition campaign.

Öcalan’s lawyers visited the Bar Association of Piraeus and asked for support to and participation in the petition campaign. The Bar Association board discussed the topic and made a statement signed by the The President George Stamatogiannis and the Ηοnorary Secretary Panagiotis Petropoulos.


The Bar Association of Piraeus expressed its strong opposition to the violation of the rights of Abdullah Öcalan, who is detained in Turkey since 1999 under circumstances of complete isolation and, indeed, in the last few years without the possibility of personal, or even telephonic or other communication even with his relatives and lawyers.

The statement pointed out that the discriminatory treatment against Abdullah Öcalan in comparison with other detainees and his total and continuous isolation constitute a direct violation of the above International Treaties, as well as of the fundamental rights of detainees.

The Bar Association of Piraeus called upon the Turkish Government to comply with its international obligations concerning the protection of human rights and the prevention of torture and any harsh and degrading conduct. The Bar asked that Turkey stops forthwith such inhuman and degrading treatment of Abdulah Ocalan, lifts the state of his isolation and restores the normal and unimpeded communication, by mail, telephone and in person, between him and his family and lawyers.

Below is the text of the petition launched by lawyers:

"İmralı Island is a law-free zone. Abdullah Öcalan has been imprisoned in İmralı Island since his arrival in Turkey on February 15, 1999. İmralı prison has been designed for Öcalan’s imprisonment, and the 5 miles around the island have been declared as military zone and airspace.

Mr. Öcalan was the only prisoner of İmralı prison between February 16, 1999 and November 17, 2009. 5 prisoners were transferred to the island afterwards, but Öcalan could see these prisoners only 5 hours a week. In a way, the arrival of 5 prisoners did not end Öcalan’s isolation and meant the isolation of 5 more prisoners.

As stated in European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and CPT reports, Öcalan never had access to a phone and his right to send and receive letters was limited. Many of the letters Öcalan wrote and hoped to receive were censored or seized without any explanation. Although Öcalan has the legal right to see family members twice a month, state officials often arbitrarily limited or violated this right. Öcalan’s right to meet with his lawyers was also arbitrarily violated with excuses such as ‘broken ferries’ or ‘weather conditions.’ Öcalan’s meetings with his lawyers have been prevented since July 27, 2011. Öcalan has also not been able to meet with family members since October 6, 2014 and with political committee representatives since April 5, 2015.


CPT had described Öcalan’s situation as “unarguably isolation since February 16, 1999” (, p.31). ECHR had described the situation between February 6, 1999 and November 17, 2009 as “torture and maltreatment, as described in the 3rd article of the convention.”


Isolation of Öcalan threatens internal peace and inflicts a critical blow to the peaceful solution of problems through negotiation. Periods in which the isolation is intensified are also the periods when violence against civilians reaches its peak. This pattern has been prevalent since the beginning of Öcalan’s imprisonment, and peace was only given a chance when Öcalan became more accessible.

Objecting to isolation is also objecting to war and standing up for peace. Objecting to the heavy cruelty against Abdullah Öcalan, whose freedom is demanded by 10 million and 328 thousand people living in a diverse geography, is also standing up for the co-existence of people from different linguistic, cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds.”