End Isolation in İmralı!
20 November 2023
Authorities did not allow the “Freedom March to Gemlik against Isolation in İmralı,” which was initiated in many cities in Turkey to protest the isolation imposed on Abdullah Öcalan, Hamili Yıldırım, Ömer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktaş, who have been held in İmralı Prison and have not been allowed to meet with their lawyers, guardians and families since 7 August 2019, and the law enforcement subsequently intervened into the marches leading to many rights violations. Citizens who wanted to exercise their democratic rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression were taken into custody with practices amounting to torture and ill-treatment.
All applications made by lawyers and families regarding those held in incommunicado detention in İmralı Prison have been inconclusive. Lawyers have not been able to provide legal support for the lawsuits filed against their clients; they have not been able to confer with them and have not been informed about their health conditions. Lawyers were not notified of the disciplinary penalties imposed on their clients.
As we have stated many times, isolation or incommunicado detention is torture through different methods in prisons. Isolation, which took the form of absolute incommunicado detention, particularly in İmralı Prison, has started to be implemented in many prisons in Turkey. The violations of rights in the recently built S-Type and high-security prisons are the most concrete examples of the spread of isolation practices.
The isolation imposed in İmralı Prison violates the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and constitutes an obstacle to the democratic resolution of the Kurdish issue. It is clear that the interventions against MPs and citizens who oppose isolation and exercise their right to protest are aimed at maintaining such isolation. In addition, the interventions against citizens reveal that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly has been de facto suspended.
Article 34 of the Constitution states that “Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission.” Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights also prescribes that “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others.”
In this period when the exercise of rights has been made an exception, as human rights defenders, we once again emphasize that isolation must immediately be abandoned and prisoners in İmralı Prison must be allowed to confer with their lawyers, and meet with their guardians and families. We call on the authorities to act in accordance with domestic and international law, to end the interventions against citizens exercising their right to protest against isolation practices, to release those in custody, and to immediately initiate judicial and administrative investigations into the responsible public officials.
Human Rights Association
Central Prisons Committee