Asrin Law Firm calls for an end to injustice and lawlessness in Imrali
Asrin’s law firm, which represents PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned on the prison island of Imrali since his deportation to Turkey in February 1999, issued a written statement on Sunday, the Kurdish leader not having been unable to exercise his right to meet with his legal counsel for exactly three years.
The statement pointed out that contact with defense attorneys is “one of the obvious rights granted to Öcalan by law and general principles of law.”
“Ready for a democratic solution to the Kurdish question”
According to the statement, there was no contact with Öcalan until May 2, 2019 after a visit by his legal team to Imrali on July 27, 2011. In 2019, the illegal contact ban was briefly relaxed, preceded by a hunger strike initiated by the imprisoned HDP. MP Leyla Güven, who was later joined by thousands of political prisoners. In three months, the lawyers were able to hold five interviews with their clients on Imrali, the last visit having taken place on August 7, 2019. “During these five interviews, Öcalan declared that the Kurdish question was a problem of democracy and that he was ready to play his part in the search for a democratic and peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. By his appeal, he assured that the hunger strike, which had reached a very dangerous point, was over. He gave messages to reassure the public,” Asrin’s law firm said.
Not the law but the political will is decisive on Imrali
The statement continued: “The then Turkish Minister of Justice publicly stated on May 16, 2019 that there was no longer any legal issue regarding visits by lawyers to the prison on Imrali Island. However, since the last visit on August 7, 2019, all visit requests have again been denied. In the three years that have passed so far, not a single meeting has taken place with our clients on Imrali. Moreover, the hunger strike against solitary confinement at the time and the declaration of the Minister of Justice in this regard afterwards show sufficiently that it is not the law but the political will that is decisive for Imrali. “
New regulations in the Turkish legal system
The statement further states: “From July 27, 2011 until the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, all requests for weekly visits by lawyers were rejected by the authorities on the grounds that adverse weather conditions or a fault of the ship did not allow the crossing. Immediately after the declaration of a state of emergency following the July 15 coup attempt, the execution judge in Bursa banned lawyers from going to Imrali prison as the one of the first official acts. Later, along with the illegal emergency decrees, an executive order was issued that paved the way for lawyers to be banned and an attempt was made to give the situation a “legal” veneer. in the case of Imrali, it has even been completely abolished in practice. defense of their clients, but not the right to a lawyer for individuals, was also enacted in 2004 and was again directed against our client Abdullah Öcalan. Immediately after the entry into force of the article in question, 15 lawyers were banned by court order from defending Öcalan for one year. Under this decree, many of Mr. Öcalan’s lawyers continued to be barred.”
No sign of life from Imrali for 17 months
“The ban on visits, imposed after July 15, 2016 under the pretext of the state of emergency, was then extended for six months without interruption. Öcalan’s fellow inmates Ömer Hayri Konar, Veysi Aktaş and Hamili Yıldırım, who are also represented by Asrin’s law firm, were also affected, but have never seen their lawyers since their transfer to Imrali in 2015 There have been no signs of life from Imrali prisoners for 17 months.
The Asrin Law Office statement concludes: “As lawyers who have only been able to meet with one of their clients held in strict solitary confinement in an island prison five times in eleven years and have not heard from them for 17 months, we would like to ask the general public, especially bar associations, legal and human rights organisations: is this a situation that can be accepted as normal? Can there be a prison like Imrali in a country whose constitution says it is a rule of law? where no civilians are allowed to enter? Can a black hole in the justice system like Imrali’s isolation system be accepted as normal? How long will Turkish society remain silent about this unprecedented injustice in Imrali and how long will it ignore the facts? We would like to remind you that a legal system cannot tolerate such “exceptions” for long, because after a while these “exceptions” spread throughout the system and render them useless. he economic picture we see in Turkey today. For social peace to emerge and for us to achieve genuine institutionalized democracy and the rule of law, we expect all public opinion to recognize this reality and oppose injustice and anarchy. We call on everyone to be sensitive to Imrali’s inhuman isolation.”