A fire erupted on İmralı Island, where Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan is serving a prison sentence, in the northwestern province of Bursa early on Feb. 27.Demanding PKK leader's release ‘freedom of expression,’ Constitutional Court rules
The fire that erupted in a forest spread quickly due to strong winds and efforts to bring it under control were ongoing.
Bursa Governor's Office released a statement on the issue, saying that the fire erupted in a location far from the İmralı Prison, on the northern part of the island.
Öcalan was arrested in 1999 and is serving a life sentence in a prison on the island alongside several other convicts.
Governor's Office statement noted that the fire was caused by wires in lampposts touching each other because of the strong winds, creating sparks that later grew into a fire.Investigation launched into HDP congress over display of PKK leader Öcalan's pictures
According to the statement, 150 personnel are working on fire extinction efforts.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the issue, saying that the fire erupted in a location far from the İmralı Prison.
He also said that he talked to Agriculture and Forestry Minister Bekir Pakdemirli on fire extinguishing efforts.
Lawyers say they need to visit island 'immediately'
Öcalan's lawyers, meanwhile, said that they need to visit the island "immediately."
Asrın Law Office released a statement on Feb. 27, saying that it's inevitable for the fire to directly affect Öcalan and others in prison.
"The immediate response capabilities in such an urgent and life-risking situation are questionable and cause rightful concerns and hesitations," the statement said.
The lawyers also pointed to the fact that Öcalan is kept in isolation.
İmralı Adası’ndaki yangına ilişkin açıklamamızdır. pic.twitter.com/tproa1Oiji— Asrın Hukuk Bürosu (@asrinhukuku) February 27, 2020
After an eight-year ban on lawyer-client meeting, Öcalan was allowed to meet his lawyers on May 2, 2019 following hunger strikes and death fasts launched by hundreds of supporters of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), with lawmaker Leyla Güven initiating the move to demand an end to Öcalan’s isolation, including access to lawyers.
Another four meetings were held on May 22, June 12, June 18 and Aug. 7 of the same year.
In their statement, the lawyers said that the last time the PKK leader was visited by his family was on Aug. 12, 2019 and lawyers haven't been allowed to visit him ever since.
"Unfortunately, we have no information on our client's health and security of life. We have applied to the Justice Ministry and authorized prosecutor's offices and it's a necessity for us to see his prison conditions rapidly," lawyers also said.
"The absolute isolation imposed on our clients held on İmralı Island constitute a crime," they added.
HDP slams government
HDP lawmaker Ayşe Acar Başaran slammed the government over their statement on the fire, saying that it lacks seriousness.
"This approach can stir panic among Kurdish people. We expect the government to release a statement to persuade the public as soon as possible," Başaran told reporters on Feb. 27, adding that a visit to Öcalan must be arranged "without waiting for tomorrow."