URGENT APPEAL TO INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
WE DEMAND IMMEDIATE RECOGNITION AND SUPPORT FROM ALL NATIONAL AND
INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS.
ASRIN LAW OFFICE, 10 May 2003