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Three Years With No News

Today it is three years since Abdullah Öcalan was last able to communicate with anyone from outside his prison. The only exception to this was the delegation from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) that visited İmralı in September 2022, which, despite the unique and illegal situation and the millions of people waiting for news of his health and well-being, has refused to say anything at all about what they found.

Isolation is a form of torture. It is not only against basic human morality, it is also against international law, and against Turkish law too. But the bodies set up to defend international law are all ineffective or absent.

The unfathomable cruelty towards Öcalan himself extends, as it is intended to do, to the whole of the Kurdish people, for whom Öcalan embodies hopes of a better future that respects their rights and allows them to live in dignity. Öcalan is the undisputed leader of the Kurdish Freedom Movement, recognised as such by millions of Kurds, and this, together with his ideas and experience and his readiness to talk and negotiate, makes him key to any peace process.

Through Öcalan’s isolation, the Turkish state denies the possibility of peace to the Kurds, and also to the Turkish people. If, instead of fomenting prejudice and hate, and sending the army to crush Kurdish hopes inside and outside Turkey’s borders, the Turkish government were to opt for peace and respect and invest in the lives of their citizens, Turkey would be a very different and much better place for everyone. As the Kurdistan National Congress puts it,

Turkey finds itself on the brink of collapse, suffering in a state of economic, social, and political bankruptcy. Ironically, the regime in Ankara possesses the solution to their own problem. As the only solution to the Kurdish question and repairing the Turkish state lies in ending Mr. Öcalan’s isolation and restoring the dialogue with him for a lasting peace agreement.

Öcalan’s isolation is also a direct attack on human culture and progress. The Turkish state is preventing all communication with a hugely important philosopher, whose ideas have the potential to move human society away from the current trajectory of self-destruction and onto a better path.

For all these reasons we will continue to grow the campaign to end Öcalan’s isolation and demand his freedom. We share again, here, the background booklet produced for the current phase of the campaign that was launched in October. Our next major action will be a sit-down protest outside the Council of Europe and the CPT in Strasbourg from 15-19 April. Please join us if you can – and also let us know about your own protests where you are.

Meanwhile, please join today’s hashtag campaign by tweeting  #3YearsNoNews

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