KCDK-E: The CPT is acting as an indirect promoter and supporter of torture and the Turkish regime

The umbrella organization of the Kurds in Europe, KCDK-E, criticizes the CPT for not visiting Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali during its latest mission to Turkey, saying that the CPT’s credibility has once again become more than questionable.

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) made a public announcement about their visit to Turkey in the period 13-22 February. According to the statement, the CPT delegation did not visit Imrali Island Prison, where Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan is held in absolute isolation and has not been heard from for 35 months. While Öcalan and his three fellow prisoners have long been cut off from the outside world, the CPT is the only institution with the authority to visit Imrali.

The fact that the CPT delegation did not visit Imrali despite the ever-growing concerns of the Kurdish people about Öcalan’s detention conditions and state of health, is drawing reactions. The Asron Law Office, which represents Öcalan and three other prisoners on Imrali, said in a statement earlier today that the approach of the CPT is neither compatible with the prohibition of torture nor with its duty to prevent conditions of torture. “While illegal disciplinary penalties and unlawful bans on lawyers imposed by execution judgeships are systematically imposed one after another, while the conditions of execution and 'judicial processes' are closed to the lawyer's review and supervision, while the right to defense has been completely suspended in İmralı, while all ties with the outside world, especially lawyer and family visits, have been severed for almost three years, while lawyers have no information about the conditions of detention and their health status, it is an unacceptable approach to raise the issue only in meetings with the authorities,“ Asrın Law Office stated.

The Presidency of the Congress of Democratic Societies of Kurdistan in Europe (KCDK-E) also reacted to the CPT, accusing it of having taken a political stance and so violated their responsibility as guardian of the human rights of prisoners.

“The CPT delegation must have been well aware that 15 February is the 25th anniversary of the abduction of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. For 25 years, Abdullah Öcalan has been subjected to cruel torture through isolation. Although Öcalan's lawyers regularly and insistently point out to the CPT and the Council of Europe that 25 years of isolation is torture and that Öcalan must be freed, these organisations have not fulfilled their responsibilities and duties,” said the KCDK-E.

The statement continued: “For 25 years, and with increasing intensity and concern, the Kurds and their supporters have been trying to receive a sign of life from Öcalan, as a state of incommunicado has prevailed since 25 March 2021. He has been completely cut off from the outside world. For years, the Kurds have been crying out to the Council of Europe and its CPT - through demonstrations, rallies, letters, emails - to draw attention to the danger to Öcalan's life and limb. Both organisations have acted like three monkeys.

At a time when the CPT is aware that the Kurds are acutely concerned by Öcalan’s condition - on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his abduction – they appear not to consider it necessary to inform millions of people about the whereabouts of their leader. The CPT has the right to visit all prisoners in Council of Europe member states, including those in Turkey, at any time, and report on their conditions of detention. Merely talking about his conditions with officials is patently not enough.”

KCDK-E pointed out that: “With this recent visit, the CPT appears once again to have taken a political stance and so violated their responsibility as guardian of the human rights of prisoners. Their credibility has once again become more than questionable. With this political stance, the CPT is not acting as a committee for the prevention of torture, but, effectively, as an indirect promoter and supporter of torture and of the Turkish regime.”