Abdullah Öcalan has been held in a single cell in Imrali Closed Prison for four years. The situation he is subjected to contradicts the general principles of law in terms of equality, prohibition of discrimination, the right of access to a lawyer and minimum standards of prisoners.

1) Abdullah Öcalan has been in a single cell for four years

By a Decree of the Council of Ministers dated 17 February 1999 Imrali island was declared a Military Restricted Zone. Abdullah Öcalan has been held under military authority at Imrali island in a single cell since 15 February 1999.

Mr Ocalan is still held in Imrali prison under conditions of complete isolation and separated from any contact with the outside world for over four years. The action taken against him is part of the security policies of the goverment which exerts immense psychological pressure on him. He is being watched by a CCTV camera continuously day and night. This situation prevents our client from acting free and in comfort. Being placed under continuous watch creates an intense psychological pressure.

The conditions of his incarceration violates the principle of international penal codes which oppose torture and discriminatory treatment. Apart from those under disciplinary punishment, Abdullah Ocalan is the only prisoner in Turkey confined continuously to a single cell. According to the rules in the Execution of the Criminal Sentence all prisoners in Turkey must be kept in cells with at least 3 other prisoners. In addition, the prisoner who faces disciplinary punishment and kept in a single cell has the right to spend some of his time with other prisoners.

Our client has several times made applications to the Ministry of Justice and requested to stay with other prisoners but his applications have been rejected. This practise violates Turkish Domestic Law.

2) Imrali prison is under the control the special Crisis Administrative Center of the National Security Council

According to the rules of Turkish Law (Execution of the Criminal Sentence) Imrali prison must be under the authority and responsiblity of the Ministry of Justice. However, this power of the Ministry including security and communications, is now given to the Crisis Administrative Center which is part of the National Security Council. The decisions of this Council cannot be challenged in court and are under no legal control. This Council is formed for exceptional conditions. Since Abdullah Öcalan has been brought to Turkey, all his legal rights including access to lawyers and his daily life has been determined by the Crisis Center, a situation accepted as ordinary and legal.

3) There are exceptional conditions of isolation which violate general principles of law

a. The right to communication for Abdullah Öcalan is violated with that practise. He should have at least partial access to newspapers and bulletins. According to Turkish Domestic Law, prisoners can obtain every kind of publication which is legal. But this rule is not applied in Imrali prison. The prison administration determines the name, number and subject of the newspapers and magazines that are to be given to Mr Öcalan. And the authorities use this power routinely. This process prevents Mr Öcalan's right to obtain any information. In the same way, he cannot exercise the right to legal books and magazines. The authorities determine which books will be given to him. And they use this power arbitrarily.
b. It is forbidden for him to watch television. All the prisoners have this right. He can only listen to one channel on radio.
c. It is forbidden for him to have telephone conversations with his family. However all the prisoners in Turkey have this right since the changes in Anti-Terror Law.
d. These changes in the Anti- Terror Law also give the right to prisoners to meet with their family face to face in privacy (on religious days and official holidays). But Öcalan does not have this right. His family have made applications several times but they have not been granted.
e. A meeting with his family on 30 April 2003 was restricted to 15 minutes. At the same time, only his brothers and sisters could visit him from his family.
f. Our client is only allowed to receive a limited number of letters that are sent to him. But he is not allowed to reply to the letters.
g. He cannot correspond with his lawyers. He is not allowed to write anything for publication.
h. He has been in a single cell for more than four years. The mental condition which prolonged isolation must induce in him is not allayed by any diversionary activity. There are no cultural, sporting and social activities in which he can become involved.

4) The Imrali conditions are a continuous and obvious violation of general and international standards of the right to defence

Abdullah Öcalan's right of defence has been effectively denied. The right of defence constitutes the principle of a fair trial which has been guarantied in both national and international law. His application to the European Court of Human Rights is still under review. He has also filed cases in the Greek Criminal Court and Ankara as well. Both the European Human Rights Convention and other International legal mechanisms were enacted in order that in a democratic society a person in custody has the right of access to his lawyers.

Although it is clear that the file case against him is complex, yet his right to meet with his lawyers has been limited, without any explanation in law. Lawyers have to obtain permission from the Crisis Administration Center to visit Imrali Islad which has been declared a Military Forbidden Zone by the National Security Council. In addition there is no way for lawyers to object to the decisions of that Council.

The process of restricting the time of meetings between lawyers and client is unlawful. Even though we have the right to meet with our client for one hour per a week it is generally violated by the authorities.

On 30 April 2003 his meeting with his lawyers was reduced to 45 minutes. Generally these meetings are prevented through reasons of bad inclement weather or absence of a ferry. His rights to meet with his lawyers between 27 November 2002 and 12 March 2003 had been prevented for these reasons.

The number of the visitors has been limited to four people.

The principle of the right to have confidential meetings between lawyer and client is not executed by the authorities in this instance. The right of defence which is enshrined in International Legal Mechanisms, is inviolate. However, the meetings are being watched by security forces using special methods. Violation of the right to hold confidential meetings contradicts the need to take professional advice and so does not make any sense.

The prison authorities check the notes written by the lawyers and take copies of them. Generally they do not return the notes. Occasionally they give only some of the papers chosen randomly. It is not known exactly which pages will come back and which will not. It is left to the whim of the authorities.

5) The reports of the visits of the European Committee of Prevention of Torture (CPT) prove the continuing violation of rights on Imrali island

The CPT hs visited Imrali Prison three times. After two visits they published reports noting that the actual conditions may affect Abdullah Ocalan negatively. It was necessary to ensure his primary needs such as television and books. And they remarked on the necessity for him to meet with his family.

CPT pointed out that they would pursue primarily the meeting of lawyers with him. The body also pointed to the negative effects of tight restrictions on him and the need to permit him to take part in sports activities. They recommend the removal of incongenial conditions that may damage his mental health. The report of the CPT was submitted to the Turkish Goverment calling for an immediate improvement of Abdullah Öcalan's conditions. However, the Turkish Goverment ignorned their recommendations.

6) As we have shown above the authorities act in a partial and illegal manner towards Abdullah Öcalan. Another important point is that all his rights as a prisoner are being undermined by the Goverment.

7) What emerges from this shameful record of administrative omissions, deprivation and discrimination is that the Turkish government and state is determined to prevent Abdullah Ocalan from assisting and creating the conditions for a peaceful, democratic and negotiated solution of the Kurdish national problem. The majority of Kurdish people in Turkey support and believe in his ideas. The treatment of Ocalan is inseparable from and relevant to the problems of the democratisation of Turkey.

Abdullah Öcalan is a political prisoner. He desires democracy in Turkey and wishes the Kurdish people to acquire their fundamental rights and freedoms as he has emphasised in his national and international courtroom defence. Most of the Kurdish people in Turkey believe in his ideas. For that reason the conditions that are applyed to him are also relevant to the democratisation of Turkey.

The General Secretary of the Turkish National Security Council, Tuncer Kiliç, speaking in Brussels said : "If we want, we will hang Öcalan immediately. But he also wants that. He wants to die at once. We kill him everyday by letting him survive. We are taking revenge for our martyrs. Besides he is not living like a king in the prison. He lives in very bad conditions. He is very miserable." This speech shows clearly the state policy towards Abdullah Öcalan. We should remember that Imrali Prison is under the control of the General Secretary of the National Security Council. Here Major General Kiliç tells us that Öcalan has been left to die slowly in prison. such an opinion as this shows the dangerous maltreatment of Abdullah Öcalan.


a. The isolation of Öcalan must be stopped immediately and the United Nations Minimum Standard Rights for Prisoners has to be upheld unconditionally in practise.

b. Other prisoners should be transferred near to Mr Öcalan.

c. The limitations on time and days for visits is unlawful as are the difficulties that lawyers endure during their journey to Imrali.

d. The restricted time period for meetings with his family must be removed. He must enjoy the same rights as the other prisoners, such as communication and family and personal visits.

e. Unlawful practises on communicating with the outside world have to be removed. Supply of newspapers, magazines and books should be obligatory.

f. He should be permitted to watch television. He should be able to correspond freely, to receive and reply to letters.

g. He should be free to take part in sport, cultural and social activities.

h. Unlawful conditions in Imrali must be terminated immediately and should be replaced in accordance with internationally approved standards. The special illegal conditions of Mr Öcalan's incarceration must be ended.