The letter of our Hakkari MP Leyla Güven to the President, European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), on the 82nd day of her hunger strike that she started to protest the total isolation imposed on Mr. Abdullah Öcalan.
Dear Dr Gnatovskyy;
As has been discussed at the meetings of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, we in Turkey face serious obstacles to democratisation and normalisation. The most critical of these obstacles is the isolation that Mr Abdullah Öcalan, who has played a central role in the struggle for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question and can continue to do so in the future, faces on the prison island of Imrali.
The Turkish government has extended the torture of isolation that it has illegally imposed on Mr Öcalan, contrary to all international laws, to the entire Turkish political system. Thus, the opportunity for democratic process is extremely limited. The Turkish government, which is no different from a dictatorship and respects neither its own constitution nor the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, has not shied away from establishing an autocratic administration. As a Kurd, as a woman and as a democratically elected politician representing the will of the third largest party in Turkey which received nearly 6 million votes in the most recent general election, I was held in prison for a year. I began a hunger strike on 8 November 2018 to break the isolation imposed on Mr Öcalan and end the system of torture. Although I was released from prison on 25 January 2019, the 79th day of my hunger strike, I want you to know that I will continue my hunger strike until Mr Öcalan’s isolation is lifted and regular visits by his lawyers and family as fundamental rights are guaranteed.
The lifting of the isolation against Mr Öcalan is, according to the statutes of the CPT and the decision of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, not a favour or privilege, but rather correlates directly with the defence of fundamental rights such as universal human rights and the independence of the judiciary. I know that you, as the CPT, are in contact with representatives of the Turkish government within the framework of the important principles I have mentioned, and I am aware of these valuable efforts. I would like to emphasize that the model of prison management throughout Turkey, especially in the Imrali prison, has become an instrument used by the Turkish government to violently repress all forms of opposition and prevent any attempt to address the Kurdish question. My indefinite hunger strike is not an individual demand, but a legitimate action to defend a legitimate right. More than 300 political prisoners have now joined this ever-expanding action. I am convinced that the CPT will use its authority and powers to accelerate the necessary steps that must be taken against the unlawful isolation in the Imrali prison, and I expect you to make a constructive contribution and assume your institutional responsibilities in recognition of the increasing tension and sensitivity both in Turkey and worldwide.
Member of Parliament
Co-Chair of the Democratic Society Congress (DTK)
29 January 2019