Some may ask: why Öcalan, why not somebody else? In politics, the development and maturing of leaders happens over a historical period, and those who emerge establish respect and a strong reputation with their ideas and through their actions amongst the people. Those who are attempting to create an alternative to such leadership are embarking on a futile task. Despite the aggravated isolation conditions enforced on Öcalan, his ability to see ahead and make decisions that strengthen the position of the Kurdish people and the bonds between the peoples of the region have further enhanced Kurdish people’s acceptance and embrace of Öcalan as their leader. His strict and brutal incarceration has not stopped his prestige and stature from strengthening, in no small part because his leadership has been tested over the years by severely changing political conditions. Indeed, Öcalan and the Kurdish freedom movement were able to lead the Kurdish people from the point of near nonexistence in the face of various existential threats to the stage of resistance and self defence, and guide the Kurdish people in the search for alternative ways of living to achieve liberation – this is what has made the trust in him unshakable. He inspired and continues to inspire the Kurdish peoples’ demand for freedom. Öcalan is the symbol of Kurdish people’s struggle against denial and colonialism, and most Kurds see him as the safeguard of peace and democracy. The escalation of conflict has coincided with the total isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, who from his lonely prison cell on the island of Imrali has been a crucial role-player and a consistent voice calling for peace.
Policy of solitary confinement against Öcalan
The most systematic policy of isolation is practiced on the prison island of Imrali against the 70 year old Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. Abducted in 1999, Abdullah Öcalan is held in Imrali island prison in Turkey with 3 other prisoners.
With the addition of a communication ban that covers telephones, letters, telegrams and any and all document sharing on top of the court ordered ban on visits, Ocalan has been cut off from the outside world completely, which clearly constitutes absolute isolation and grave violation of basic human rights.
The conditions of isolation are nothing but the institutionalization of the anti-Kurdish strategy of Turkish government. The struggle against isolation is a struggle for peace.
Abdullah Öcalan’s release, as a vital contribution to the solution of the conflict, is therefore both necessary and inevitable. To continue to silence and isolate Öcalan is to continue to ignore the Kurdish question in Turkey, and to fail to take concrete steps towards political reforms and democratization. To fail to address this issue humanly and according to international legal norms and values is to highlight that Turkey has no intention to uphold universal human rights.