International Peace Delegation: We are not seeing any progress in Mr Öcalan’s situation and this gives great cause to concern

The International Peace Delegation has arrived in Turkey. The delegation consisting of former Iceland Justice Minister Ögmundur Jónasson, academician and anthropologist Felix John Padel, human rights defender Melanie Ann Gingell, Welsh Trade Union Congress General Secretary Shavanah Taj and the member of the European Parliament Julie Ward paid a visit to our headquarters and met with our co-chair Pervin Buldan.

After the meeting, our co-chair Pervin Buldan and the delegation member Julie Ward held a joint press conference and said the following:

Pervin Buldan:

Today, we host an important delegation here at our headquarters. This delegation is a peace delegation from Europe, a delegation consisting of important figures. First of all, we thank them. They will be here for a couple of days to have meetings on a very sensitive matter, Mr Ocalan’s isolation.

Mr. Öcalan is not an ordinary prisoner and not an ordinary person imprisoned in İmralı Prison. Allowing his family and lawyers to meet him is not a matter that depends on the government's arbitrariness. We do not accept the government isolation policy. There has not been meeting with Mr Öcalan since August 2019. We, both as the HDP and the Kurdish people, express that the absolute isolation imposed on Mr. Öcalan must be terminated immediately. 

Jule Ward:

It’s very good to be here, hosted this morning by the HDP. I want to thank Ms Buldan for meeting us to give us an update on the situation. We are a delegation from the United Kingdom, Iceland, a high-level delegation of politicians, lawyers, trade unionists, activists who have quite deep knowledge and interest in the situation of Kurdish people.

We are part of the global solidarity movement that exists and I think really found its voice recently partly because of the hunger strikes. Some of us have participated in İmralı delegation before. Whilst Mr Öcalan remains in prison in isolation, it’s very important that we continue to maintain this regular activity. So that we can assess the situation, we can continue to put pressure on Turkey’s authorities and the European and international institutions.

We have been able to have a conversation this morning, bringing us up to date with the situation. There was a concern that now the hunger strikes finished, the eyes of the world will move away from the situation. That means it is more important us to understand what is happening here and to try to raise awareness in the media also in international level.

Whilst it appears that some openings occurred last year allowing Mr Öcalan's family and his lawyers to visit him, we are not seeing any progress. This gives great cause to concern.

For example, to know that Mr Öcalan was sensitive to Turkey’s security concerns is a really important message that we need to give out. His concern for the welfare of the hunger strikers was also very important. It demonstrates that the huge influence he has on Kurdish people globally. We have been also able to talk about the wider concerns we have for detained elected members of HDP including Mr Demirtaş and mayors. 

So we will have a very intensive meeting for 3-4 days here in Ankara, then in Diyarbakır and İstanbul with NGOs, civil society, with party members to give us an overall picture of the situation, the ongoing suffering of the Kurdish people.  

And finally, I would like to say that the struggle goes on and we continue to stand in solidarity with you.

12 February 2020