Civil disobedience action in Paris calls for international action for Öcalan

Kurdish people continue their protests to demand freedom for Abdullah Öcalan, who is held in incommunicado detention in Turkey and has not been heard from for 30 months.

Imprisoned for more than 24 years on the prison island of Imrali, the Kurdish people's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, has been held incommunicado for 30 months now, without any contact with the outside world. The complete lack of information regarding the situation of Öcalan and his three fellow prisoners – Hamili Yıldırım, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş – raises growing concerns about their safety and health. Countless requests for visits filed for years by the lawyers and families of Imrali detainees have gone unanswered.

Kurdish activists staged a civil disobedience action in front of Sacré Coeur (Sacred Heart of Montmartre) in Paris to demand freedom for Abdullah Öcalan and an end to the aggravated isolation imposed on him.

Demonstrators staged a sit-in, displaying photos of the Kurdish leader and a banner reading “Freedom for Abdullah Öcalan” in French.

The activists called on the Council of Europe, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) and all concerned international authorities to take action for the Kurdish leader who was taken captive as a result of an international conspiracy 24 years ago and has not been heard from for 30 months.

Speaking on behalf of the demonstrators, a Kurdish activist said: “Kurdish youths based on Leader Öcalan’s ideas and freedom movement have sacrificed thousands of lives and saved Europe and the world from the calamity of ISIS. The ongoing captivity of Leader Öcalan, the architect of the “Jin, Jiyan, Azadi” (Woman, Life, Freedom) motto of victimized women, is unacceptable. We call on the Kurdish people and their friends to adopt a stand upholding the duty of honor to Leader Öcalan and to raise their voices for his freedom more loudly.”

During the course of the action, demonstrators handed out leaflets to passers-by providing information about the absolute isolation of Öcalan and chanted slogans “Bijî Serok Apo” (Long Live Leader Öcalan)”, “Libertè pour Öcalan” (Freedom for Öcalan) and “Bê Serok jiyan nabe” (No Life Without the Leader).


The Imralı F Type High Security Closed Prison was built specifically for Abdullah Öcalan in February 1999 and has since been operated based on a special status and through special practices.

Under the so-called aggravated execution regime, Abdullah Öcalan and his fellow prisoners, Hamili Yildirim, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş, have been held under conditions of extraordinary isolation for a long time, 24 years in terms of Öcalan and eight years each in terms of other inmates.

Despite all their attempts, lawyers from the Istanbul-based Asrin Law Office, which represents Abdullah Öcalan and his three fellow prisoners, have not been able to receive even a single sign of life from their clients since 25 March 2021. They could not obtain any information regarding their health status, their detention conditions, their legal situation in 2022. It has been 29 months that their clients have not been heard from in any way.

Öcalan held in a single cell since 1999

According to the “2022 Annual Assessment Report on Rights Violations and the Current Conditions in Imrali Island Prison” released by Asrın Law Office on 15 February 2023, Abdullah Öcalan has been held in a single cell in İmralı Island Prison since 15 February 1999. For the first ten years, he was the only prisoner in the island prison. In November 2009, new cells were added to the prison and five other prisoners were brought in. Nevertheless, Öcalan continued to be kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day on weekdays and 24 hours a day on weekends.

Until 2011, Öcalan’s right to see his lawyers was limited to one hour one day a week, but in fact, he was constantly prevented from availing himself of this limited right, with the authorities alleging the pretext of “adverse weather conditions” or a “technical defect” of the coaster going to the island. In the twelve years since 27 July 2011, he has only been able to see his lawyer five times, between May and August 2019. The last of these five meetings took place on 7 August 2019.

Since 2014, Öcalan has received five visits from family members. His brother’s visit to the prison on 3 March 2020 marks Öcalan’s last direct contact with his family. Also, in 24 years, he communicated with the outside world via telephone on only two occasions (on 27 April 2020 and 25 March 2021). During the last phone call on 25 March 2021, the connection was lost after only two minutes and could not be restored. Öcalan has not been heard from since.