EU anti-torture committee visits imprisoned PKK leader for first time in three years
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) on Monday said it visited Turkey from May 6 to 17, which included a visit to Imrali where the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, is being held.
“On the occasion of the visit, the delegation also went to Imrali F-type High-Security Prison, in order to examine the treatment and conditions of detention of all (four) prisoners currently held in the establishment,” the CPT said in a statement.
The organization said the visit was “to review the measures taken by the Turkish authorities in the light of the recommendations made by the CPT after its previous visit to the prison (in April 2016).”
The last time the CPT published a report on the situation in Imrali was in March 2018—that report was based on a visit two years before in 2016.
The CPT said that in its recent visit, “particular attention was paid to the communal activities offered to the prisoners and the application in practice of their right to receive visits from relatives and lawyers.”
Ocalan received a visit by his lawyers for the first time in eight years on May 2.
Hundreds of politically-jailed Kurds and Kurdish activists are on a hunger strike since December 2018 to break a policy of isolation on the PKK leader.
One of their main demands was to pressure the CPT to “fulfill its duties and pay a visit to check on the situation of Ocalan,” a group of campaigners wrote in a letter to The Guardian in May.
It remains to be seen if this CPT visit to Imrali will end the hunger strike led by Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker Leyla Guven.
Apart from visiting Imrali, hundreds of persons who were or had recently been held in police custody in the Ankara, Diyarbakir, Istanbul, and Sanliurfa areas were interviewed by the CPT, the organization said.
Since a 2016 crackdown by the government after a failed military coup, several pro-Kurdish MPs, scores of mayors, thousands of party officials and members remain jailed across prisons in Turkey.
This year, in its annual global review released in early 2019, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Turkish “government continued its repressive measures against elected parliamentarians, mayors, and municipalities from pro-Kurdish parties.”
According to HRW, Guven and nine former HDP parliamentarians remained in prolonged pre-trial detention on politically-motivated terrorism charges, including former party co-leader Selahattin Demirtas.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany