Opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan on June 29 visited eastern Van province as part of Eid visits.
During an event organized by HDP Van provincial organization, Buldan said “We will fight to end the isolation in this country. We will not surrender this country to the darkness of the Justice and Development Party (AKP),” in a move to support journalist Merdan Yanardağ who was arrested over his remarks criticizing the contact ban imposed upon jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan.
“Oppression and intimidation, building an empire of fear will never stop us. The detention and arrest of a journalist for saying ‘There is isolation in this country’ once again showed us how widespread the isolation is. People are being isolated not only in İmrali prison, but all over the country. But they inflict the worst of it on Mr. Öcalan,” Buldan added, according to reporting from the Mezopotamya News Agency.
During a live broadcast on Tele1, Yanardağ on June 20 said the contact ban and isolation imposed upon Öcalan should be lifted and added that “Abdullah Öcalan is over 70 years old, it has been a long time since he has been in jail, 25 years without interruption. He is the longest serving political prisoner in Turkey. If normal execution laws apply, he should actually be released, in a house arrest etc. The isolation imposed upon Abdullah Öcalan has no place in law. It has to be lifted.”
A Turkish court on June 27 arrested journalist Merdan Yanardağ as part of an investigation on the grounds of “praising the crime and the criminal” and “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.”
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan has been kept in isolation for 24 years in F Type High-Security Prison on İmralı Island in Bursa. The jailed PKK leader last had a brief phone call with his brother on March 25, 2021. Since the interrupted phone call, no information has been received from Öcalan as well as other prisoners on the island (Hamili Yıldırım, Veysi Aktaş, and Ömer Hayri Konar). Their lawyers have also been prevented from meeting the prisoners.
Yanardağ also said before his arrest that he “did not praise any terrorist organization and its leader.”
“I made an assessment stating that the AKP wants to start a new peace process, and is preparing an amnesty to Öcalan. Because Öcalan is in isolation, we do not know about the ongoing bargaining, and that such strict isolations are not implemented in execution laws in democratic countries,” he said.
He added he is a “patriotic and socialist journalist” and it is not possible for him to “praise any terrorist act.”
“There is no praise, on the contrary, there is an ironic criticism of appraisal of AKP's policies, you will see,” he noted.
“I explained that due to an AKP member’s remarks stating that the government is preparing an amnesty, it could end in frustration. I laughed on the show as the main indication that I was being ironic,” he said in his testimony.
He added “I don't think it's a crime to talk about isolation. Even if it is assumed that it is a crime, I stated that even if a solution process is to be initiated, everyone should know the extent of it. I said, ‘Abdullah Öcalan is used by politicians as a method of politics. If that's the case, lift the isolation, let's find out what he said. Let him talk to his lawyers and his family, and we'll find out,’ (during live broadcast).”