Laywers representing jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and three other PKK-member inmates on the İmralı Island have applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with a demand that Turkish authorities lift the restrictions on their clients’ communication with family members and lawyers.
The lawyers’ move came after all domestic remedies have been exhausted in Turkey. The Asrın Law Office took the case to Turkey’s Constitutional Court on June 19, but the top court on July 22 rejected their application on the grounds that “there is no serious danger threatening the applicants’ lives which requires an immediate measure,” Mezopotamya news agency reported on July 29.
The Asrın Law Office released a statement regarding the issue on July 29 on their social media account, saying that the communications ban imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, Ömer Hayri Konar, Hamili Yıldırım and Veysi Aktaş had been stricter ever since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. “With the COVID-19 epidemic, the communications bans have led to a heavier and more worrisome situation,” the lawyers said.
The lawyers also recalled a 2014-dated ECHR ruling which had found that Öcalan’s conditions of imprisonment was in violation of the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment contained in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights having regard, in particular, to the level of isolation he was subjected to.
“This decision [of the ECHR in 2014] is a clear document that the İmralı Isolation System has a nature of torture,” the lawyers said.
“On top of that, the continuous and non-interruptive implementation of the Absolute Isolation implementation during the COVID-19 epidemic, in which communication with family members and lawyers is prevented, has been increasing the impact of the isolation on the clients,” the lawyers said, adding that the İmralı Island prisoners need health assistance and attention more than ever during this coronavirus period.
The statement also said that the last time Öcalan talked with his family on the phone was on April 27 and this was done with “public pressure.” The last time that Öcalan has received a visit from his lawyers was on Aug. 7, 2019, the statement said. The other three PKK inmates on the İmralı Island Island, on the other hand, have not been able to talk to their lawyers since their transfer to the island five years ago, according to the statement.