Is the isolation of Öcalan over? The Minister of Justice of Turkey, Abdulhamit Gül made a statement on the 16th of May 2019, declaring that the ban on lawyers being allowed to visit with their client Mr Abdullah Öcalan had been lifted after a one hour visit was allowed to go ahead on the 2nd of May.
However as of the time of writing we have had no confirmation of Turkish courts authorising further access for either Mr Öcalan’s legal team or family despite further applications being made.
An expression of what needs to be done
Following the declaration of the Turkish Justice Minister regarding the lifting of the ban on lawyer-client consultations with Mr Öcalan, the lawyers of Asrın have released an official response to this statement.
The Minister of Justice has announced to the public the Bursa Assize Court’s decision to lift the ban on consultations with our client Mr Abdullah Öcalan, and that it is possible to meet with him.
In our press release on 6 May, we shared that we had a lawyer-client consultation with Mr Öcalan on 2 May. In this statement, we have also stated that the prohibition on lawyer-client consultations was lifted by the Bursa Assize Court upon our objections. However, despite the applications made each day after the meeting we held on May 2, 2019, a new consultation has not yet been achieved. Applications for visitation by Mr Öcalan’s family continue to be blocked by a court decision citing a new disciplinary penalty issued on April 22, 2019.
As stated in the statement of the Ministry of Justice, since the prohibition verdict, which is already against the law, has been lifted, it is necessary to state that lawyer-client consultations should be conducted periodically. It is a legal obligation that Mr Öcalan establishes his full legal rights, including consultation with his lawyers and visits by his family, to receive letters, telephone calls and his right to other means of communication.
In this respect, we consider this statement of the Ministry of Justice, which is one of the most authoritative institutions in terms of justice/jurisdiction, as an expression of what needs to be done legally and invite all judicial and administrative institutions to act in accordance with the law.Asrın Law Office
Pressure mounts on Erdogan
The public statement from the Turkish government coincides with news that the European Councils Committee for the Prevention of Torture is close to publishing further demands for reform in Imrali prison where Mr Öcalan and three other political prisoners are held and an increasingly febrile domestic situation for Erdogan as the possibility of conflict between its neighbour Iran and the US come to the fore once again.
Further complicating the picture is the potential loosening of Erdogan’s grip on the Turkish state after disastrous local elections for the ruling AKP and the declaration that the Istanbul election is to be rerun.
Keep up the demands to end the isolation of Öcalan
The visit on the 2nd of May was the first in eight years and is a huge step forward but on its own does not represent an official and practical end to the aggravated isolation which Mr Öcalan has endured for twenty years.
The visit on the 2nd of May was the result of continued and persistent pressure from activists, trade unionists, politicians, human rights campaigners and the extraordinary commitment of over 7,000 hunger strikers worldwide inspired by the example of The Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Leyla Güven, who started her hunger strike on the 8th of November and is continuing until an end to the isolation is guaranteed.
What is clear is that continued international pressure and demands for justice for Mr Öcalan and also a peaceful and democratic resolution to the Kurdish question is critical. The Freedom for Öcalan campaign will continue to build support and solidarity until Öcalan is released and every imprisoned trade unionist and political prisoner walk free with him.
We remain committed to Mr Öcalan’s release
The fact that Abdullah Öcalan’s legal team were able to visit for the first time in 8 years is noted. The conditions of Mr Öcalan’s detention remain completely unacceptable and is widely recognised.
One visit in 8 years could by no means be considered to be in compliance with legal obligations. The lawyers concerned have not been granted further access.
The Freedom for Öcalan campaign remains committed to his release from captivity on Imrali island and participation in peace negotiations to resolve the Kurdish question.Christine Blower – CoChair Freedom for Öcalan Campaign
His full rights must be respected
It is important that Mr Öcalan’s full legal rights under Turkish law are respected and that he is able to be in contact with his family and political allies as well as his lawyers.
We will continue to build support for his full release from prison to allow for a genuine peace process based on democracy and the rule of law.
End the isolation of Öcalan.Stephen Smellie – Secretary Freedom for Öcalan Campaign
How can you help the campaign?
With growing support in the trade union movement, devolved governments and the Parliamentary Labour Partythe Freedom for Ocalan campaign is calling on trade unionists and activists to support the many local campaigns now running throughout the UK and Europe.
If you’re a member of a trade union it’s critical you support us by requesting your branch, regional or national trade union affiliate now.
With trade union support in the last twelve months we’ve been able to;
- Have the privilege of being the international solidarity theme for the 2018 Durham Miners Gala and we look forward to a major presence at this years Tolpuddle Martyrs festival
- Sent delegations to Turkey and Kurdistan and supported local trade unions
- Successfully lobby the devolved government of Wales to support the goals of the campaign
- Run conferences in the House of Lords and City Hall London
Members of political parties able to pass motions at a branch or constituency level, particularly Labour members can use this model motion.
Alternatively, if you feel you are able you could make a one-off or regular donation to help the campaign.