International anti-torture committee visits İmralı Island

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has visited the İmralı Island where jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan is imprisoned. The Committee said they cannot give any details at the moment, but their report on the visit would be sent to Turkey in six months.

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The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has visited the İmralı Island where the jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and other PKK members Hamili Yıldırım, Veysi Aktaş and Ömer Hayri Konar are imprisoned.

The Committee was in Turkey between Sept. 20-29. The visit aimed to examine the treatment of detained migrants.

The aim of the visit was to “examine the treatment and conditions of detention of all (four) prisoners currently held in the establishment,” said a statement by the CPT. 

The delegation paid attention to “the communal activities offered to the prisoners and their contacts with the outside world,” during their visit. 

Second Vice-President of the CPT Therese Rytter has said that they cannot talk about their findings during their visit. 

Rytter further said that they will prepare a report on their visit and send it to Turkey in March 2023. “Then Turkey will have six months to respond and will decide whether it wants the report to be published. The member state can decide whether the report will be published or not,” according to reporting by Mezopotamya News Agency.

Meanwhile, Öcalan’s lawyers issued a statement welcoming the visit.

“We have expressed many times that we have not received any news from our clients Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktaş and Hamili Yıldırım since March 25, 2021, and that we are worried about their health and life. We welcome the CPT to take such a step, albeit belatedly, after all our applications, calls and initiatives made by a wide national and international legal community,” the Asrın Law Office said.

Öcalan has been behind bars in a high-security facility on the İmralı island in the Marmara Sea to the south of Istanbul since 1999. The last time Öcalan was allowed to see his lawyers was on Aug. 7, 2019 after being unable to meet with them for eight years. Since then, lawyers have filed more than a hundred petitions to see their clients, but they were all turned down.

As for his family, Öcalan was allowed to talk with his brother Mehmet Öcalan on March 25, 2021 on the phone. This was the last time that he held contact with a family member.

Öcalan is kept in solitary confinement and is essentially isolated from the outside world, conditions that have sparked numerous hunger strikes in prisons throughout the country.

Hamili Yıldırım, Veysi Aktaş and Ömer Hayri Konar joined Öcalan on the İmralı Island in 2015. The three men are, like Öcalan, kept in solitary confinement.