To: Amnesty international & European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, CPT
The Turkish state and the government has long promised to the European Court and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, CPT, to change the brutal isolating conditions that has been held towards the Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan during eleven years on the prison island of Imrali in the sea of Marmara in Turkey. This gave us hope that the isolation would be removed and that Ocalan’s right to life and his human rights would be respected. According to reports from both the CPT and the European Court, the condition Ocalan lives in is a clear violation of all international laws regarding the respect of a prisoner, his human rights and human dignity are therefore not reasonable. This fact threatens both his mental and physical health. That Ocalan’s physical and mental health has significantly deteriorated by his confinement on Imrali and the conditions he is held captive in, is also witnessed by his relatives and his lawyers. It has long been said by the Turkish government that the conditions Ocalan has lived in during the recent ten years should change. The actual result of this change occurred by an emergency report that Ocalan himself, his lawyers and relatives have published for the national and the international community.
The report presents that the Turkish state has set up a new prison, which Ocalan was transferred to on Tuesday 17 November 2009. According to the Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin, nine other prisoners from different prisons around the country will also move there so that Ocalan will not be the sole prisoner on the island of Imrali. But no trace of this change has until now been recognized. Ocalan is still the only prisoner in a prison which is ten times more isolating and the conditions which he lives in are much more inhumane than the previous prevailing conditions.
Although the Turkish Ministry of Justice indicate that obvious changes have been made at the newly built prison on the island in order to improve the living conditions of Ocalan, the reality is quite the opposite. In the new prison and in the new cell which Ocalan is in, much worse conditions exist compared to the previous prison he has been held in. Ocalan?s new cell is only six square meters, while the previous cell was 13 square meters. The air conditioning is much worse than before, which leads to big difficulties in absorption of oxygen. The window is also extremely worse. It is constructed upwards and no oxygenated fresh air is let through. Its design prevents Ocalan from having a view of the outside world and the daylight that comes in from the window is very hot.
In his latest statement Ocalan describes his new living conditions by following:
“My new cell is half the size of my old cell and consists of six square meters. The air conditioning here is also much worse. In order to be able to inhale and exhale air, I must stand by the window and open it. The window here is built upwards and I have no view on the outside world. The only thing I can behold is the sky. When I have to open the window in order to get oxygen, the sun burns me greatly. Even though the heat from the sun is so unpleasant, that I feel like I will get a heat stroke, I am forced to stay by the open window in order to get oxygen. I have very severe breathing problems here. ”
The Kurdish PKK leader’s brother Mehmet Ocalan, who recently visited his brother at the newly established prison, on 18 November 2009, said in an interview with the press that the sharp deterioration had been made on Ocalan’s living conditions at the prison by informing the following:
“In the name of improvement clear deterioration has been made. The cell that my brother now is living in is a room of six square meters, but the former was thirteen square meters. The air conditioning is significantly much worse and my brother has great difficulty in inhalation and exhalation of air. Ocalan said during the meeting to us that he feels that he at any time will be suffocated and that every time he tries to inhale air, it feels like his guts are coming out of his body. My brother was also subjected to solitary confinement during our meeting with him. Previously, the distance between him and us was ten metres less when we met him, but now Ocalan was buried in a cage of glas and the distance between us was thirty metres. We had to yell to hear each other. This was the worst meeting and the worst state we have seen him in during the ten years which Ocalan has been held in a Turkish prison. As Ocalan’s family, we strongly protest against the Turkish government’s actions against him. His deteriorated condition and state create considerable concern for us.”
We, the Kurds in the Diaspora and Kurdish friends, would like to turn to you and all organizations which have the objective to work for humanity and human rights and we appeal for your humanity and your human attention on this serious issue. The above mentioned factors all point to a system, which is twice as much worse isolating and painful, has been established at the new prison. This has occurred despite CPT’s demands for improvement of the conditions. In Amnesty International reports the case has been highlighted a number of times in the past and even the organization has made an appeal that the social and psychological isolation, which Ocalan is subjected to, should end. Amnesty International has clearly expressed criticism against the CPT’s latest report, which was published on 6 March 2008 and held a number of softer emphasizes against Turkey, on the case where it was revealed that Ocalan has been poisoned. Amnesty International had through their head office in London stated that the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, CPT, was vague and weak in their indications and pressure on Turkey concerning the treatment and the poisoning of Ocalan. According to Amnesty International reports and international criteria, isolation is an extensive and dangerous crime of a man’s physical and mental well-being.
That a country like Turkey, who has signed on most of the European criterias and laws for a humane treatment of detainees in prisons, promising to improve Abdullah Ocalan’s situation and living conditions, but are instead doing the exact opposite, is both appalling and unacceptable. Hereby, we ask Amnesty International and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, CPT to take this case into consideration and present it on your agenda. We ask you to pay attention to the case with other organizations, also working with human rights and all matters relating to the subject. We also want you to convey, that Turkey with its legitimacy as a state and the false impression that the government gives to be a rule, are not covered by any rule of law when it violates its promises and respond to CPT’s requirement to improve the living conditions of Abdullah Ocalan by doing the exact opposite to him. We would like to draw attention to that Turkey’s intentions with this behavior is to deceive CPT and the international community regarding to this case. We therefore ask you to initiate immediate efforts and actions against this brutal crime, which is to slowly but surely break down Ocalan and thus lead him into a life-threatening mental and physical condition.
That Abdullah Ocalan’s death sentence was abolished was good news for everyone, but that the sentence was replaced by torture and painful isolation, which may be called as a white execution, is an inhumane fact which your organizations should not accept and therefore do everything in your power to both deter and prevent.