International Delegation Against Isolation – final statement

An international delegation has been meeting with key organisations in Turkey to find out more about the situation of Abdullah Öcalan and the other prisoners in İmralı and about judicial oppression in Turkey. The 36 people – mainly lawyers but including politicians, journalists, and academics – came from various European countries and also South Africa. Over a busy three days, they visited Ankara, Istanbul and Amed (Diyarbakir) and held meetings with the families of the İmralı prisoners and with their lawyers, as well as with human rights organisations, the Turkish Medical Association, bar associations, progressive political parties, and other organisations. Their visit culminated in an International Forum Against Isolation in Istanbul. Below are their initial findings and recommendations:

  • Exceeding the notion of isolation, the practices in İmralı Prison have created a situation where the inmates are completely cut off from all contact with the outside world. It is therefore imperative to perceive this state of affairs not only as a legal, but also as a political problem.
  • Unless it puts İmralı Prison at the center of its understanding of the Kurdish issue and takes sides by addressing the political and social aspects of this problem, the democratic public is partly responsible for the current state of isolation.
  • The regime of isolation affects not only Abdullah Öcalan and political prisoners in Turkey, but the entire social opposition. The order of exploitation encroaches on our lives in their totality. This encirclement can only be overcome through only a joint legal, political and social struggle.
  • It is alarming that the lawyers and human rights defenders who carry out legal activities to assist the prisoners in İmralı Prison, where all rights are suspended, are prevented from doing their work and subjected to investigations and prosecutions. This itself is an indication of how much the field of law and human rights has come under attack, both as a profession and as a normative framework.
  • It is unacceptable for European states to ignore the ECHR and other international conventions for the sake of their own interests while we witness universal human rights values being dismantled and pulled from under our feet. At this stage, in the face of such connivance, it has become imperative to organize a network that pursues the struggle for rights and law on a global level.
  • We once again call on those in positions of responsibility in Turkey to urgently restore the rule of law in İmralı Prison. Reminding them their responsibilities regarding the current state of affairs, we call on all European states not to sacrifice fundamental human rights to geopolitical and economic interests.
  • The approach to İmralı Prison and the legal and political practices in the prison are a litmus test of the democratic standards and political situation in Turkey.
  • The Kurdish issue and concomitant problems such as poverty, hunger, migration and refugees, gender-based inequalities and violence, cultural erosion, and environmental destruction caused by the war cannot be resolved without ending the incommunicado detention and the systematic violation of the prohibition of torture in İmralı Prison. The situation in the prison is of critical importance for Turkey’s democratization and the possibility of solving mentioned problems.
  • The discriminatory execution regime against political prisoners, which was first implemented in İmralı Island Prison and gradually spread to all prisons in Turkey, must be abolished. Respect for the basic human rights of all prisoners, especially sick prisoners, must be reestablished as a standard.
  • The system created on İmralı Island is being deployed as a technique of government. It no longer constitutes an exception but has evolved into an ordinary legal-political regime that has spread throughout the country. The survival of the government has taken precedence over the future of millions.
  • Abdullah Öcalan has been subjected to all kinds of immoral and inhuman torture for 24 years. The main purpose of these practices is to liquidate the legitimate democratic struggle and the constitutive politics of the social opposition. Therefore, the primary and essential objective of all oppositional forces and law and human rights defenders must be the complete abolition of the İmralı system.
  • Due to its significance and ramifications, the Kurdish issue has grown into a problem of regional and global scale. Efforts geared towards its solution should therefore also be discussed by taking into account its impact and consequences for the Middle East and the world at large. For this, it is essential for all progressive forces around the world to take the initiative and mobilize.
  • We once again call on the CPT to exercise its responsibility in respect of the prolonged incommunicado detention in İmralı Prison, which has become the source of great concern and anguish. Well justified as it is, we expect all law and human rights defenders, especially our friends in Europe, to keep up the pressure on the CPT in this regard. We would also like to emphasize that the CPT should immediately share its latest observations concerning İmralı Prison with the public.
  • The forum offered an occasion to refresh our memories and call ourselves to account. Thus, we concluded that one of the main duties of the forum components is to assume the leading role in expanding and strengthening our solidarity network in order to sustain our struggle.
  • As a constantly changing area of legal and political obscurity İmralı Prison does not only deprive the public of its right to information. In the face of manipulation and information pollution politics too is thrown into a state of vertigo. The current state of affairs in which we are unable to receive even a sign of life from the inmates in İmralı Prison must end immediately.
  • The solution to all these problems lies in the democratic and societal solution to the Kurdish issue. Öcalan’s freedom is inevitable for a peaceful and political solution of the Kurdish issue and the democratization of Turkey.