IHD co-chair Keskin blames Turkish opposition over Imrali isolation

As the hunger strike resistance against Imrali isolation in Turkey’s prisons marks 70 days, Turkey’s IHD co-chair Eren Keskin stated that the opposition is as guilty as the government. “There is no law in Imrali”.

Thousands of PKK and PAJK prisoners in Turkey have been on a 5-day indefinite-rotating hunger strike since 27 November 2020 demanding Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan.

The prisoners emphasized that their resistance is a “warning” and if their demands are not met, the action will go a step further.

The government has tried to break the resistance with attacks such as disciplinary penalties, seizure of communication tools such as radio, television and newspapers, bans on sugar, salt and lemon. However, the prisoners who did not take a step back, have been continuing their actions decisively for 70 days.

Hunger strikes in Maxmur and Greece

The hunger strike resistance against the Imrali isolation and for Öcalan’s freedom is not limited to prisons.

A hunger strike was launched in Maxmur Camp under the leadership of women against the Imrali isolation on 18 December. The action in the Maxmur Martyrs’ Families Association is on its 49th day.

Refugees in Lavrio Camp, in Greece have been on an indefinite-rotating hunger strike for 32 days demanding the end of the isolation against Kurdish people’s leader Öcalan and to support the hunger strikes in Turkish prisons. The hunger strike continues under the leadership of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (TCŞ-Tevgera Ciwanên Şoreşger), the Kurdish Women’s Movement in Europe (Tevgera Jinên Kurdistan a Ewropa) and Navenda Çanda Kurdistan (Kurdish Cultural Center).

CPT did not visit Imrali

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) arrived in Turkey at a time when hunger strikes against the isolation continued but did not visit the Imrali Prison. Asrın Law Office, which represents Abdullah Öcalan stated: “Imrali Prison is a jail where law is completely ignored. We consider it wrong that the CPT does not visit Imrali and does not ask lawyers about it.”

Keskin: Opposition equally guilty

Speaking to ANF, Human Rights Association (IHD) co-chair Eren Keskin said that the isolation in prisons has become heavier especially after the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, and added: “Isolation and violations of rights have become heavier both in Imrali and in other prisons.”

Keskin said that even the people who are on the verge of death have started a hunger strike.

Keskin further remarked: “When it comes to Kurds, those who define themselves as opposition keep silence. The whole Turkish society is supporting Boğaziçi University protests, but there is no voice raised over the hunger strikes. People need more information from outside, especially when they are on a hunger strike. But contacts with their families are limited. Their meetings with lawyers are also blocked.”

‘Political motivations ignore human rights’

Keskin also criticized the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). “The CPT had a meeting with the Human Rights Association. Our co-chair Öztürk Türkdoğan brought up the issue of them not going to Imralı.

The CPT was established under international conventions, it prepares reports, and these reports are extremely important. There are some control mechanisms. The Turkish state acts against the international conventions it has signed. As human rights defenders, we are constantly speaking about it, but the economic interest relations between states take precedence over human rights. I link the CPT’s attitude to this.”

Opposition asks the votes of the Kurds’

Keskin said that when it comes to Kurds, Armenians, and groups that remain on the red line of the official ideology Turkish opposition remains silent: “The main opposition CHP asks for votes from the Kurds, but does not deal with the rights violations against the Kurds, except for one or two deputies. The main issue of this land is the state and official ideology, the second is the double standards of the opposition and their Unionist mentality. The Kurds are left alone. These are very important violations of rights, but when it comes to Kurds, there is great silence.”

‘No law in Imrali’

“Isolation has always existed. Imralı is not observing domestic law. We have not seen the domestic law in Imrali from the very beginning. As lawyers, we were attacked and meetings with our clients were blocked. The prisoners cannot meet with their family or their lawyers. Other prisoners cannot meet their family and lawyers just because they are staying in Imrali. We are in 2021 and no one can explain why the prisoners have not been allowed to meet with family and lawyers for years.”