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Women protest in Tel Rifat against the isolation of Öcalan

In the town of Tel Rifat in the northern Syrian canton of Shehba, the Kurdish women’s umbrella organisation Kongreya Star and the Yazidi Women’s Union promoted a demonstration in protest at the aggravated isolation of the Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan. The mastermind of the Kurdish liberation movement has been on the Turkish prison island of Imrali since his abduction from the Greek embassy in Kenya’s capital Nairobi in February 1999 in violation of international law. For four months now, he has again been subjected to complete solitary confinement.

Most of the protesters were women who were displaced from Afrin by the Turkish invasion almost two years ago. The demonstrators emphasised that Öcalan is considered the legitimate representative of the Kurdish freedom movement. At the same time, they stressed that he was the only person who had a great influence both within the entire liberation movement and within the population. As such a person, conditions must be created for him to live and work in order to contribute to the solution of the Kurdish question, they said and called upon international organisations, especially those working for human rights to take measures which will at least lead to an improvement in the conditions in which Öcalan is being held.

Turkey back on total isolation

The total isolation of Abdullah Öcalan was briefly broken through by a massive hunger strike protest that lasted for months and was first started by HDP MP Leyla Güven on 7 November 2018 in a prison in Amed (Diyarbakir). Between May and August, after eight years of denial, five visits by lawyers and family members to Öcalan were allowed by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Bursa. Before that, the 70-year-old Kurdish leader was last allowed to receive a lawyer visit at Imrali on 27 July 2011.Two weeks ago it also became known that disciplinary sanctions had been imposed on Abdullah Öcalan and his three fellow prisoners on Imrali on 21 October.

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