Pro-Kurdish party calls on parliamentary committee to visit PKK leader’s island prison

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP) has urged the parliament’s Committee on Human Rights Inquiry to visit the prison on İmralı Island to observe the detention conditions of Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Thursday.

The party pointed out that Öcalan has been held incommunicado since March 2021, restricted from meeting with lawyers and family.

From March 2021 to the end of 2022, the authorities did not respond to any of the 238 requests for attorney meetings and 79 for meetings with family members, the report said.

The Yeni Yaşam newspaper reported on Thursday that the lawyers have filed another request for a meeting with their client.

“No exceptional situation, including war and a state of emergency, can legitimize the inhumane treatment Abdullah Öcalan has been subjected to,” HEDEP said in its application to the parliamentary committee.

Located in the Sea of Marmara, the island prison of İmralı has been where the founding leader of the PKK has spent the last 25 years. He is serving an aggravated life sentence handed down on treason and separatism charges.

Since the 1980s the PKK has been leading an insurgency that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people in Turkey. The group is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, including the EU and the US.

In 2013,the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) launched peace talks with the armed group. Yet, the truce collapsed in mid-2015 and the violent conflict resumed.

The AKP’s rhetoric turned increasingly anti-Kurdish after its alliance with the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in 2018, which coincided with a greater persecution of the Kurdish political movement.

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