Lawyers’ report on İmralı isolation

Asrın Law Office issued a report on isolation and pointed out that they are unlawfully prevented from meeting with Öcalan.

Asrin Law Office issued a report to draw attention to the aggravated isolation imposed upon the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan. The 6 month report was announced in a meeting held in the Istanbul offices of the Human Rights Association (İnsan Hakları Derneği - İHD). 

The report touched upon the Constitutional Court and the ECHR appeals and the CPT’s approach. It also stressed that even the tiniest contact with Öcalan changes the atmosphere in the country for the better. The lawyers called on the public to “be conscious and show their democratic protest so the Imrali system can be eliminated”. Highlights from the report are as follows: 

“Since the last lawyer visit on July 27, 2011, the constant appeals to have the lawyers visit have not yielded any results. In the last year, all lawyer visitation appeals, submitted twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays, have been rejected. All these appeals until July 15, 2016 were rejected on extremely unbelievable grounds like “bad weather” or “boat malfunction”. Our clients have not seen their families or lawyers since the day they were transferred to Imrali prison.

It is unacceptable to usurp the most fundamental rights and freedoms of prisoners kept in an isolated islad prison during state of emergency that encompasses an unforeseeable and incomplete period of time.”


Along with the lawyers and the family, an international committee including European Parliament MPs, unionists, academics and human rights activists from various countries also requested an appointment from the Ministry of Justice to visit the Imrali Prison on February 17-18-19, but their appeal was left unanswered.


As the lawyer ban entered its 7th year, HDP MP Berdan Öztürk’s written inquiry to the Ministry of Justice was answered in January 2017 as: “The first of the convicts in question is able to meet with his lawyers as part of his right to legal aid and right to defense, like other convicts and arrestees, but occasional malfunctions in the vessel or bad weather conditions make it hard to reach the island the prison that houses the convict is on, so there can be obstacles on meeting with his lawyers, family and guardian.” This answer exposes the isolation and lays out the fact that the Imrali reality is attempted to be hidden and the public is deceived.”


During the absolute isolation, the lawyers have regularly made necessary visits and given necessary information to the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, an organ of the Council of Europe with authority to visit prisons in member states (including Turkey) and reporting the rights violations they encounter. The CPT has most recently visited the Imrali Prison on April 28-29, 2016, but contrary to their 6 previous visits, they still haven’t published their report that includes findings and suggestions even though it has been 15 months, because Turkey has not approved it. It is inconceivable that the CPT, having identified many rights violations in the Imrali Prison and offered many solutions to overcome them in the past visits and reports, stays silent today in the face of a total information blackout. As concerns regarding the health and safety of the convicts in the Imrali Prison increase after the July 15 coup attempt and no information can be obtained, the CPT visiting many detention centers in Turkey during visits on August 29-September 6, 2016 and May 10-23, 2017 and failing to visit the Imrali Island Prison makes one presume that there is a tacit consensus on the Imrali matter.


The events experienced throughout the country during the Imrali process from 1999 to the present day have shown clearly that whenever security policies have come forth in the approach towards the Kurdish issue, the isolation in the Imrali Prison has deepened along with them. Today there are unmistakable parallels between the conditions the country is under and the absolute isolation in Imrali. On one hand, the country is going through a deep chaos and conflict, and on the other there is a total communications blackout for Imrali, and any and all contact is prevented. But it is an clear fact that even the tiniest contact with client Abdullah Öcalan creates a very positive atmosphere throughout society. Mr. Öcalan insistently voicing his efforts for peace even during his most recent visit with his brother on September 11, 2016 shows once again that even under absolute isolation conditions, he has made the democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish issue his raison d’être. We are calling on the public to be conscious and voice their democratic protest so the current ‘Imrali System’ that is unacceptable in the humane, legal and political senses and that has been built with the failing of the law can be dismantled.”