International Initiative
Freedom for Ocalan – Peace in Kurdistan
P.O. Box 100511, D-50445 Koeln
Telephone: +49 221 130 15 59
Fax: +49 221 790 76 10 30

Cologne, 06 December 2011

Press statement
"Free the Lawyers - End the Isolation"

2nd statement of the International Initiative on the mass arrest of lawyers

After the mass arrest of 41 lawyers of Abdullah Ocalan on 22 November 2011 and several days of police custody arrest warrants were issued against 33 of them. Among those arrested are all those lawyers who had in recent years at least once taken the ordeal to go to the prison island of Imrali, to give Abdullah Ocalan the possibility to make use of his right to consult a lawyer. Ocalan has spent almost 11 years in solitary confinement there.

All these lawyers have already been confronted with harassment for a long time, making this perhaps the most difficult mandate in the world. The attacks on them include physical assaults by an incited mob during the on Imrali in 1999, multiple humiliating personal searches before and after each consultation, the recording of the entire oral communication with their client and a total ban on written communication. Previous sanctions that have already hit about two dozen lawyers involve forced exclusion from the mandate and a variety of investigations, prosecutions and trials leading to jail sentences of up to several years.

Moreover, since 27 July 2011 any visit to the prison island of Imrali has been prevented by the state. Thus Ocalan and the other five prisoners have been completely cut off from the world for more than four months now. There is a growing concern about their well-being.

The latest, coordinated attack on the defence of Ocalan is absolutely unprecedented in the history of Turkey. Never before have so many lawyers been arrested at the same time – not during the three military coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980 and not during the 1990s, when opposition activists were killed in the streets or “disappeared” forever. The right to defence had already been reduced to absurdity through the lifting of the confidentiality of attorney-client consultations in the case of Ocalan. All of these consultations take place under absolute surveillance and have been taped since 2005. Nevertheless, the capture of the entire active defence team bursts the limits of imagination.

The arrests took place after prime minister Erdogan had verbally attacked and accused the lawyers publicly. The judiciary and the press followed suit – among other things by publishing “sensational” incriminating photographs which quickly turned out to be completely harmless.

This wave of arrests also constitutes the latest peak in the continuing series of mass arrests since 2009, mainly against Kurdish politicians, human rights activists, journalists and community activists. It also blends into the concept of total war against the Kurdish democratic movment that has been implemented since at least June 2011. It includes the almost daily bombings of alleged guerilla positions in Southern Kurdistan/Northern Iraq.

The reason for this escalation is the breakdown of the secret talks between the Turkish state, Ocalan and the PKK from 2006 to June 2011. The state appears to have no constructive proposals submitted, but merely repeatedly demanded an extension of the unilateral ceasefire. On the presentation of three “protocols” by the Kurdish side containing the framework for a multi-level peace process, the state reacted with a breakup of the talks. The subsequent attack on the lawyers is apparently supposed to cut all communication channels of Ocalan.

While these talks were still ongoing, the state provided for a written communication between Ocalan and the guerrillas several times without the knowledge of the lawyers. This piquant fact renders absurd the charge that the lawyers transported Ocalan's instructions.

The International Initiative vehemently protests against the arrest of Ocalan's 33 lawyers. This scheme is part of an attempted military solution to the conflict, which can only fail. The current repressive measures constitute blatant violations of basic human rights like the right to defence. In this way, a peaceful solution to the conflict moves further into the distance.

The International Initiative calls for the immediate release of the detained lawyers and the immediate lifting of the renewed total isolation of Ocalan.

First signatories of the International Initiative:

Máiréad Maguire (Nobel Prize Award, Northern Ireland), Dario Fo (Director, Writer, Actor, Nobel Literature Prize Award, Italy), Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Nobel Literature Prize Award, Argentine), Jose Ramos-Horta (Peace Nobel Prize Award, East-Timor), José Saramago (Nobel Literature Prize Award, Portugal), Danielle Mitterrand (President, Donation France Liberté, France), Ramsey Clark (Lawyer, former Attorney General, USA), Uri Avnery (Former Member of Knesset, Gush Shalom (Peace Bloc), Israel), Prof. Dr. Noam Chomsky (Linguist, Writer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), Alain Lipietz (Member of the European Parliament, France), Pedro Marset Carpos (Member of the European Parliament, Spain), Mrs. Jean Lambert (Member of the European Parliament, GB), Lord Avebury (Chairman, Parliamentary Human Rights Group, House of Lords, GB), Harry Cohen (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, GB), Cynog Dafis (Member of Parliament, Plaid Cymru, GB), Lord Raymond Hylton (House of Lords, GB), Lord Rea (House of Lords, Great Britain), Walid Jumblat (President, Socialist Progressive Party, Lebanon), Rudi Vis (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, GB), Paul Flynn (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, Great Britain), Máiréad Keane (Director, International Department, Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland), Domenico Gallo (Lawyer, former senator (CI), member of Magistratura Democratica, Italy), Livio Pepino (Lawyer, President of Magistratura Democratica, Italy), Xabier Arzalluz (President, PNV (Basque Nationalist Party), Tony Benn (Member of Parliament, Labour Party, GB), Giovanni Palombarini (Lawyer, former president of Magistratura Democratica, Italy), Heidi Ambrosch (Vice-president and Women Speaker, Communist Party of Austria), Mag. Walter Baier (President, Communist Party of Austria), Giana Nanini (Artist, Italy), Geraldine Chaplin (Actress, Madrid, Spain), Dietrich Kittner, (Humorist, Writer, Cabarettist, Germany), David MacDowall, (Writer, GB), Alice Walker, (Writer, USA), Franca Rame, (Actress, Director, Writer, Italy), Prof. Dr. Jean Ziegler (Member of the Swiss National Council, Publisher, Switzerland), Dr. Diether Dehm (Vice President, PDS, Germany), Prof. Dr. Angela Davis (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA), Prof. Dr. Luigi Ferraioli (Philosophy and Law Professor, Italy), Prof. Dr. Uwe Jens Heuer (Law Professor, Berlin, Germany), Prof. Dr. Wolf-Dieter Narr (Comittee for Fundamental Rights and Democracy, Germany), Prof. Dr. Werner Ruf (International Law Professor, Kassel University, Germany), Prof. Dr. Norman Paech (International Law Professor, Hamburg School of Economy and Politics, Germany), Prof. Dr. Gerhard Stuby (International Law Professor, Bremen University, Germany), Prof. Dr. h.c. Ronald Mönch (Chair of Bremen Highschool, Germany), Prof. Dr. Elmar Altvater (President, International Lelio Basso Donation for the rights of the peoples, Germany), Prof. Dr. Helmut Dahmer (Sociology Professor, Darmstadt Technical University, Germany), Prof. Jürgen Waller (Chair of School of Arts, Bremen, Germany), Christine Blower (Former President, National Union of Teachers (NUT), Great Britain), Ken Cameron (General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union (FBU), GB), Josep Lluis Carod Rouira (President ERC, Barcelona, Spain), Michael Feeny (Adviser of Cardinal Hume in refugee affaires, GB), Gareth Peirce (Lawyer, Great Britain Frances Webber, Barrister, GB), Norbert Mattes (Information Project Near und Middle East, Germany), Yayla Mönch-Buçak (Oldenburg University, Germany), Dr. Mamoud Osman (Kurdish Politician, Great Britain), Jutta Bauer (Book Illustrator, Germany), Günther Schwarberg (Journalist, Germany), Hans Branscheidt (medico international / Appell von Hannover), Germany, Rolf Becker (Actor, IG Medien (Media Union), Germany)

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