February 15, 2023
Hazzard reiterates call for Abdullah Öcalan’s release

Chris Hazzard MP was in London today to address the Second Annual Abdullah Öcalan Conference. The South Down MP was speaking after participating in an international human rights observer delegation to Istanbul at the end of January.

 Following the conference, Mr Hazzard said:

“I visited Turkey a week before the earthquake that has hit the region, so first and foremost I extend my solidarity to those who have been at the epicentre of this catastrophe. I know many of the Kurdish community in Ireland, and here in London today, come from areas affected by this earthquake. I was pleased to have the opportunity to extend our solidarity to all effected by this crisis.

“Last month I acted as a participant in a human rights delegation to Istanbul, we went to observe and investigate the political situation in Turkey and the experience of the Kurdish people. We travelled from all over Europe and from South Africa and consisted of academics, lawyers, journalists and political representatives. We met with legal organisations, civil society, prisoner families, political parties, and social movements.

“We heard first hand the extent to which Turkey’s security apparatus and penal system have been weaponised against Erdogan’s political opponents.

“The illegal detention of Abdullah Öcalan is at the centre of the Kurdish issue. The practice of isolation affects not only Öcalan, and other political prisoners, but the entire political opposition in Turkey. We met with ordinary lawyers and human rights defenders who have been prevented from doing their work. Political activists who have been subjected to unwarranted investigation, prosecution, and detention.

“The isolation of political prisoners, first implemented in İmralı Prison and gradually extended to other prisons, must be abolished. Respect for the basic human rights of prisoners must be reestablished as a standard.”

The South Down MP concluded, “There can be no doubt, Öcalan’s freedom is inevitable for a peaceful and political solution of the Kurdish issue and the democratisation of Turkey.”

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