Kurdish people all around the world hold grave concerns for the wellbeing of Abdullah Öcalan, the founding leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has been imprisoned by Turkey since 1999.
Öcalan has been held totally incommunicado since he had a short but interrupted phone call with his brother in March 2021. His last in-person visit by his lawyers was in March 2020.
At an emergency rally in Sydney Town Hall Square on December 18, Brusk Aeiveri from the Democratic Kurdish Community Centre (DKCC), demanded an explanation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) which sent a delegation to the İmralı Island Prison (where the Kurdish leader is held) in September but did not meet with Öcalan.
Depriving Öcalan any contact with the outside world constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, which is banned by both Turkey’s Law on Execution of Penalties and the United Nations' Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.
The UN has deemed it torture to hold prisoners for more than 15 days without meaningful human contact.
The ban on communication with his lawyers violates Öcalan’s right to legal representation, as recognised in Turkish law and the European Convention on Human Rights, Aeiveri told the rally.
The Australian government should make the strongest representations to Turkey for an immediate end to this obscene violation of human rights and the rule of law, added Peter Boyle, a journalist and Kurdish solidarity activist.
Labor should campaign in all international forums for Öcalan to be immediately taken out of isolation and allowed visits from lawyers and family, Boyle told the rally. It should push for his release from imprisonment because this would be a big step towards peace and justice in the Middle East.
"PM Anthony Albanese was one of many people who, during the campaign against South African apartheid, called for the freedom of Nelson Mandela as a step towards peace and justice.
"Abdullah Öcalan is the 'Nelson Mandela' of the Kurds. He needs to be freed if there is going to be peace and justice!," Boyle concluded.