Öcalan’s lawyers

Three of Öcalan’s lawyers give a press conference in May 2019 after the first meeting with their client in nearly eight years

Throughout his imprisonment, Abdullah Öcalan has been represented by Asrın Law Office in Istanbul, which also acts for the other prisoners in İmralı. They regularly apply to visit Öcalan, and, at present, are as regularly refused. As well as representing Öcalan in the major cases in the European Court of Human Rights, they are kept busy filing complaints about the denial of access to their clients and, currently, about the misuse of disciplinary penalties and the authorities’ refusal to supply them with information. They pursue these cases up through the Turkish legal system to the Constitutional Court, which then stalls on processing them or declares them inadmissible. Every legal malpractice exercised by the judicial system gives rise to further complaints and legal cases.

At the same time, the lawyers inform, and put pressure on, all institutions that might be able to help. They send frequent reports on Öcalan’s situation to the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), and try and persuade them to make further visits and to be more active in pressing Turkey to act on CPT recommendations.

You can read their most recent report to the CPT here:

The lawyers have also appealed to the United Nations, calling for action from the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Rapporteur and Sub-Committee on Torture, and the Urgent Action Unit. The conditions in İmralı island prison fall foul of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules) in a great many ways.

In a bid to force action from the authorities by highlighting the situation, in June 2022 Öcalan’s lawyers organised a letter signed by 775 lawyers from 29 different Bar Associations in Turkey who said they would act for Öcalan and demanded to see their client.

This was followed by a similar letter from 350 lawyers from other countries – especially from Europe – which was publicised at a press conference in Belgium on 14 September, and another letter a few days later from 756 lawyers in Syria, and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

One aim of such actions is to pressure the CPT into action. At the end of September, a CPT delegation visited İmralı, however rumours have since emerged that Öcalan did not meet the delegation. So far the CPT has refused to comment on these rumours or give any indication as to Öcalan’s safety and health, despite his lawyers claims that they have a duty to do so.