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Turkey allows family to visit jailed PKK leader Ocalan

Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), along with two other convicted PKK members, were allowed to meet their families, the Asrin Law Office announced on Tuesday.

After months of rejection, Ocalan’s brother Mehmet Ocalan was allowed by Turkish authorities to visit him in the Imrali Prison.

The families of Omer Hayri Konar and Veysi Aktas who are referred to as Ocalan’s secretariat by the pro-Kurdish media were also allowed to visit them.

Founded by Ocalan, the PKK, which is labeled as a terrorist organization by the Turkish state as the armed militant group, has waged has a separatist insurgency since 1984.

The PKK leader has been held in solitary confinement in Imrali, an island prison in the Marmara Sea since he was captured in 1999.

Leyla Guven, the then jailed lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched a hunger strike on November 8, 2018, in a bid to demand that the isolation imposed by the Turkish state on Ocalan be lifted so that he can see his family and lawyers regularly.

Later, several other HDP MPs, as well as thousands of Kurdish prisoners in Turkey, joined the hunger strike in solidarity with Guven.

In January 2019, Ocalan’s brother was granted a visit for the first time after more than two years.

In May, the strikers ended their protest when Ocalan called on them to put an end to it as the state had also let him meet his lawyers.

It was only the second time he had seen his lawyers since 2011.

Later in August, during the Eid al-Adha or Feast of Sacrifice, this time the families were allowed to see the inmates.

The latest permission by the state came after a statement released on February 27 by the inmates’ law bureau over a fire outbreak in the prison.

The law office said at the time that they were concerned about the precautionary measures in case of an emergency situation on the island.

“It is a necessity [for the Turkish state] to grant a visit to families and lawyers as it is a legal right to check the conditions of the jail,” the lawyers said at the time.

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