Jailed PKK leader’s lawyers take contact ban to European Court of Human Rights

The lawyers of the Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) jailed leader have applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over a contact ban with Abdullah Öcalan, pro-Kurdish Fırat News Agency reported on Wednesday.

Öcalan’s legal team has taken his years-long ban – and that of three other inmates in Turkey’s İmrali island prison – to Europe’s top court after an appeal in June was denied by Turkey’s Constitutional Court, the agency said.

The PKK leader was last allowed a rare visit by his lawyers in May 2019.

Öcalan, who is serving a life sentence for treason after being captured in 1999, had been barred from meeting his lawyers since 2011 – not including the visit last year – and has had only limited family visits since the collapse of a peace process between Turkey and the PKK in 2015.

The three other detainees in question have yet to talk to their lawyers since their transfer to Imrali five years ago, Fırat said. 

The PKK is an armed group that has been at war for Kurdish self-rule for over three decades. Over 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have died in the conflict since 1984.