Amnesty Calls on Turkey to End Ocalan's Isolation

Published June 30th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Turkey should end condemned Kurdish rebel chief Abdullah Ocalan's solitary confinement on a prison island in northwestern Turkey because of possible health risks, Amnesty International has said. 

The London-based rights group said in a statement on Friday that it had asked Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to make the move in a letter sent on Thursday, the first anniversary of Ocalan's sentencing to death for treason and separatism. 

Amnesty recalled that Ocalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was the sole inmate on the island of Imrali since his capture by Turkey in February 1999. 

"The human rights organization is concerned that this may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the statement said. 

"Amnesty International believes that prolonged solitary confinement may have serious effects on the physical and mental health of prisoners." 

It added that Ocalan was allowed to leave his cell for an hour twice a day to go into a yard surrounded by high walls, and was under constant observation by prison guards both inside and outside his cell. 

Ocalan was allowed limited access to newspapers and magazines, had a small radio to listen to the state-run radio station and was given most books brought to him by his lawyers during their weekly meetings, Amnesty said. 

"We urge Turkish authorities to ensure that all possible steps are taken to provide Ocalan with social contact with other prisoners, and that other measures are taken to alleviate the possible adverse physical and psychological effects of prolonged solitary confinement," the group added. 

Ocalan was sentenced to death in June last year, but his execution has been put on hold by Ankara until the European Court of Human Rights rules on his complaints against Turkey - LONDON (AFP)  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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