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Lawyers of jailed PKK leader say concerned about his life amid allegations of his death

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Lawyers representing Abdullah Öcalan, jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have said they have concerns about the life of their client amid claims on social media of his death, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Claims emerged on social media on Sunday that Öcalan, who has been jailed on İmralı Island on the Sea of Marmara since 1999, has died.

In a statement by the İstanbul-based Asrın law firm on Monday, Öcalan’s lawyers recalled that their last meeting with Öcalan on İmralı took place on August 7, 2019 and that the last time Öcalan called his family was on April 20, 2020 concerning the coronavirus pandemic. They said no word has been heard from Öcalan since then due to his isolation in prison, calling on Turkish authorities to lift the ban preventing the lawyers from meeting with Öcalan. The lawyers said only by ending Öcalan’s isolation and allowing him to exercise his right to meet with his lawyers and family can the claims about his death be cleared up.

Meanwhile, Öcalan’s brother Mehmet Öcalan also complained about the lack of communication with the PKK leader for almost a year, saying: “We are concerned. The responsibility lies with the state [if anything happens to him].”

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US.

In May 2019, Öcalan’s lawyers had been allowed for the first time since 2011 to visit the jailed PKK leader at a time when hundreds of Kurdish prisoners were on a hunger strike to end what they said was the “isolation” imposed on the PKK leader.

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