Families of Imrali prisoners denounce isolation in Turkish parliament - UPDATE

Families of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and other prisoners in İmralı made a statement in the Turkish Parliament.

The families of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan and his fellow prisoners Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş held a press conference in the Parliament.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Urfa deputy Ömer Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar's brother Emin Konar, Veysi Aktaş's sister Sabiha Aktaş and lawyers from the Asrın Law Office Özgür Faik Erol and Serbay Köklü attended the press conference.

Ömer Öcalan said that families seeking to inform the public about the latest situation were faced with various obstacles while getting into Parliament.


“We haven't received information about Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktaş and Hamili Yıldırım in İmralı F Type High Security Prison since March 25, 2021. Our last communication with our relatives was on March 25 through a phone call after serious allegations were raised about Öcalan's life on 14 March through some websites and social media accounts. On that day, Mr. Öcalan's phone call was halted for an unknown reason, while Mr. Yıldırım's phone call was very short, and the other prisoners were not allowed to make phone calls since they protested the isolation,” Ömer Öcalan said.

During his interrupted phone call, Abdullah Öcalan revealed that the current isolation conditions were unacceptable and demanded to use his right to meet with his lawyers to handle this unlawful situation and urged authorities to comply with the laws.

No information has been received about the detention and health conditions, protection measures against the pandemic and similar issues since Mr. Öcalan’s call was interrupted. While Yıldırım's call lasted short, Konar and Aktaş allegedly did not want to make phone calls to protest the isolation conditions. We follow the conditions and other issues of our relatives with deep concern since they are completely cut off from the outside world.”

Our last contact before March 25, 2020 was via a phone call which was allowed for the first time in Imrali prison on April 27, 2020 due to the pandemic. A face-to-face meeting took place on March 3, 2020 under exceptional circumstances because of a fire that had broken out on Imrali Island. Our jailed relatives are not allowed to meet their families nor their lawyers. While Mr. Öcalan has been denied access to his legal counsel since August 7, 2019, Konar, Aktaş and Yıldırım have never been granted a meeting with their lawyers since March 2015, when they were transferred to Imralı Prison. Our relatives are completely cut off from the outside world and not allowed to use telephone, letter, fax, and similar communication means.

Within the same concept, disciplinary committee decisions are constantly put forward as a justification for the denial of visits. Despite the relentless legal struggle led by our lawyers, our rights to communicate are not recognized and unlawfulness and arbitrariness are imposed on us. This situation is in progress despite the Ministry of Justice, the most authorised institution of Turkey's judiciary and justice bureaucracy, and the Minister of Justice having stated in 2019 that there was no obstacle to the visitations of lawyers and families on Imrali Island.


Moreover, a report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) released on August 5, 2020 based on a visit to Imrali Prison in 2019 stated clearly that restrictions on family and lawyer visits are unacceptable and meetings should be allowed. Another issue is that our communication is restricted to extraordinary circumstances and to learning whether the right to life of jailed relatives is ensured or not. All our communications after 2015, when an aggravated isolation was put into effect, were results of the hunger strike protests in prisons, a fire on the island, the emergence of the pandemic and serious allegations about Öcalan’s health conditions. Another striking point is that Öcalan was allowed to meet his lawyers only five times in 2019 over a period of more than 10 years after the year of 2011.

However, these meetings also took place as a result of the hunger strike protests in Turkish prisons. It is very clear that the aggravated isolation on Imrali is related to Mr. Öcalan's efforts to achieve a democratic solution and peace with regard to the Kurdish issue.


Mr. Öcalan articulates his efforts for a democratic solution and peace whenever his communication with the outside world is made possible. For this very reason, this isolation is also to the detriment of a democratic solution and peace. In the meantime, we experience and see for ourselves how the lawlessness and arbitrariness on Imrali are spreading to the whole country over time. As the families of the prisoners on Imrali, we are concerned about the detention conditions of our relatives from whom we can never receive any information because of the aggravated isolation. We are worried about their lives. We want the legal rights of our relatives to be secured and this unlawfulness and arbitrariness on Imrali to be stopped.

We urge official institutions responsible for the functioning of human rights, law and democracy in Turkey to fulfil their responsibilities and we call for public sensitivity on the issue.”