İzmir police detain 16 for protesting against jailed PKK leader Öcalan's contact ban

Turkish police on Nov. 19 detained 16 citizens in the western İzmir province over their attempt to take part in a march protesting the contact ban imposed on jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Cihan Başakçıoğlu / Gazete Duvar

As per the call of several political parties including the pro-Kurdish People’s Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP), protestors, coming from several Western provinces, on Nov. 19 gathered in İzmir’s Buca district to protest against the contact ban imposed on jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, and to demand a democratic solution to the Kurdish issue.

Protestors gathered in İzmir, as well as several other provinces, as part of the march towards Gemlik district, a harbor town in the northwestern province of Bursa from where ships sail to the İmralı Island where Öcalan has been imprisoned for 24 years.

However, the police prevented the march from taking place and detained 16 protestors. 

Many people shouted “Pressures cannot intimidate us” after the police intervention and set out towards Gemlik to join the march with their private vehicles.

HEDEP İzmir deputy Burcugül Çubuk said “the ban decision is a crime against the peace of the people. We gathered to march against the isolation imposed on Mr. Öcalan for the peace of the people. We will not bow to anyone. We will march to Gemlik against the isolation in all prisons.”

PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan has been kept in isolation for 24 years in F Type High-Security Prison on İmralı Island in Bursa, serving life sentence. 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.

The prison administration prevented Öcalan and other prisoners from receiving visitors with a decision taken on May 7, 2021. In addition, on Oct. 12, 2021, the Bursa 4th Execution Judgeship ruled to prevent Öcalan from meeting with his lawyers for six months. Both decisions have been extended since then.

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.

(English version by Alperen Şen)