Lawyer Lesage: Imrali is a state of lawlessness in every sense

Lawyer Etienne Lesage said: "Long-term detention and isolation without the right to hope is a long-term form of death. All states that impose isolation should be tried for the crime of torture."


There has been no news from Abdullah Öcalan for more than three years. The Kurdish People's Leader has been held in isolation in İmralı Island Prison for more than 25 years.

Öcalan, whose right to see a lawyer and family has been usurped as a whole, has been subjected to a state of absolute lack of communication for more than 3 years. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), which has the sole authority to enter Imrali, is de facto paving the way for the Imrali isolation to deepen with its silence on the issue.

The "Freedom for Öcalan, political solution to the Kurdish question" campaign, which was launched globally on 10 October, continues to spread worldwide in its second phase.

Etienne Lesage, deputy chair of Lawyers Without Borders and one of the Paris Bar Association Lawyers, spoke to ANF about the legal aspect of the Imrali isolation.

'Turkey should be tried for the crime of torture'

Lesage said that the isolation conditions of Abdullah Öcalan are inhumane and a degrading treatment of human dignity. He added: "This isolation is a cry to the European Convention on Human Rights. Turkey has not only signed this agreement, but is also a member of the Council of Europe. Therefore, Turkey's practice is a clear violation of this convention. All states that impose isolation on detainees should be tried for crimes of torture and barbarism, because this isolation is a form of torture."

'International justice must take a stand'

Underlining that the Turkish state also violated international law with its practices against Abdullah Öcalan, lawyer Lesage said: "International justice must condemn and expose this violation without being subjected to any diplomatic pressure. Abdullah Öcalan's continued detention and isolation constitute inhuman and degrading treatment and are tantamount to torture in terms of international law."

'The CPT should take a stand on the protection of human rights'

Lawyer Lesage continued: "The CPT's stance on Imrali is ambiguous. Its approach reveals to us the existence of a conflict between diplomatic relations and the protection of human rights. This state of conflict should be resolved in favor of human rights, not in favor of an authoritarian regime. Europe's silence on this issue due to diplomatic relations is worrying. Therefore, lawyers from all European countries should remind Europe of its duty to respect international law."

'Long detention of over 25 years is not compatible with any law'

Lawyer Lesage added: "It is important to ensure Abdullah Öcalan's freedom because a person cannot be kept under such harsh conditions for 25 years. Continuing detention and even life imprisonment, is incompatible with European law. Long-term, meaningless detention is inhuman and degrading treatment and a violation of international law."

'Long term detention is a sentence to death'

Underlining that every prisoner should have the right to hope, lawyer Lesage said: "Long-term meaningless detention does not exist in European conventions and practices. Long-term detention, like the death penalty, is seen as an inhumane and degrading practice. This is a prolonged form of death that does not give the prisoner the right to hope. A perspective of detention that does not recognize the right to hope is an insult to international conventions."