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Ocalan's nephew accuses human rights groups of ignoring jailed PKK leader's plight

THE nephew of jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan accused international human rights organisations and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture today of ignoring his plight.

Omer Ocalan, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Urfa province in southern Turkey, urged the global institutions to take action to stop the Turkish state from continuing to keep him in isolation in breach of international law.

The Kurdish leader was allowed to meet his lawyers for the first time in nearly eight years in 2019 and was also permitted a brief visit by his brother Mehmet.

But this was deemed a cynical move to coincide with Turkish municipal elections, in which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was desperately seeking Kurdish votes.

It also came about after former HDP MP for Hakkari Leyla Guven led a hunger strike that was joined by some 7,000 political prisoners in protest at the treatment of Mr Ocalan, who has been held on Imrali island in the Sea of Marmara since 1999.

A new wave of rolling hunger strikes entered its 55th day today, with Mr Ocalan warning that his uncle had not been able to see his family or his lawyers for eight months, despite numerous applications.

“There is neither measure nor morality in this matter," he said, warning that history will judge Turkey’s treatment of Kurds.

Mr Ocalan has been held in isolation since he was captured in an operation involving the intelligence services of a number of countries, including the United States and Israel.

The PKK leader had his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment as part of Turkey’s bid to join the European Union. His trial was declared “unfair” by the European Court of Human Rights in 2005.

His conditions have been condemned as “torture,” with the Imrali island prison branded a “Turkish Guantanamo in the heart of Europe.”

Mr Ocalan’s treatment has largely been ignored by human rights organisations. In line with its treatment of Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International has refused to award Mr Ocalan prisoner of conscience status.

In a bizarre twist, Amnesty did award this status to Mr Erdogan when he was jailed in 1998 for reading a banned poem calling for strict Islamist law in Turkey. The rights group launched a major campaign for his release, taking out full-page adverts in newspapers across Europe.

The PKK leader’s nephew urged people to support the hunger strikers and to “react against this lawlessness” for the future of the Kurds.

“If we fulfil our duties, we will break both the isolation of Mr Ocalan and the doors of prisons,” he said.

“We have an important role for peace and the future of the Kurdish people. Anyone can do anything. We must do whatever is necessary…”

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