Imrali Prison, Turkey

Photo released by Ministry of Justice, Turkey

The hunger strike in Turkey by Kurdish prisoners and other Kurdish activists ended after an intervention by Abdullah Öcalan, from his prison on Imrali Island, on Saturday 17 November. Abdullah Öcalan’s message was announced by his brother Mehmet Öcalan.

Mehmet Öcalan had been taken to Imrali Island by ferry. The Turkish authorities had blocked visits for over a year, saying that the ferry was not working. The message the Kurdish leader gave to his brother, as reported by DIHA news agency, “I’m calling from here to ask you to end the hunger strikes now. This action has achieved its goals.”

Continue reading “Is Abdullah Öcalan’s isolation over?” »

Imrali Prison, Turkey

Photo released by Ministry of Justice, Turkey

Hundreds of Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey are on hunger strike. Some have reached their 58th day of hunger strike and are close to death. One of their demands is for an end to the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. This is part of a larger demand for Turkey to create the conditions for a dialogue, with the full participation of Öcalan, to resolve the country’s Kurdish question. The prisoners are also demanding the right to education and legal defence in the Kurdish language.

Continue reading “Kurdish Hunger strikers demand end to Öcalan’s isolation” »

Protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Photo copyright © Aisha Maniar

Updated 13 November 2012
URGENT ACTION ALERT: Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan have been in US custody for over 5 weeks. Babar made his first phone call home on Thursday 8 November. Talhas’s family received their first letter from him on 13 November. The men have minimal contact with their families and no contact with the outside world apart from their lawyers and their families. Please contact your democratic representatives and (if you live in Britain) write to the British Foreign Secretary and the British Ambassador to the US to raise your concerns over this. Ask them to urge the US authorities to ensure that letters sent by Babar and Talha to their families are sent out and that regular telephone and written contact is established.

Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan were extradited from Britain to the US in the early hours of Saturday 6 October. They were then charged in the US District Court in New Haven, Connecticut with various “terrorism” offences connected with their alleged association with an obsolete muhajideen media outlet concerned with Bosnia, Chechnya and Afghanistan. Both men have entered “not guilty” pleas. Their trial is scheduled for October 2013.

They are currently being held at the Northern Correctional Institute, Somers, Connecticut in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. They have been in US custody over 4 weeks, but their families have so far received neither phone calls nor letters from them. Letters sent to them by their families have not reached them. The families have no idea what condition Babar and Talha are in or why they have been unable to communicate.

Continue reading “British men in incommunicado detention in the USA” »


A UK supreme court ruling on the unlawful detention of Yunus Rahmatullah exposes the weakness of the courts in the face of US human rights abuses

A number of things done routinely by the US Government, its law-enforcement agencies, its law courts and its armies lie outside international law and international norms.

That ought to be causing the US great difficulties in the world’s court rooms. Instead, judges around the world are working hard to incorporate US exceptionalism into their own legal systems. Sometimes their deference to the US is blatant; sometimes it is so subtle and intricate as to pass unnoticed. Either way, their decisions are replacing the rule of law by a pretty mask. Beneath the mask, justice rots.

No other country uses solitary confinement as massively and intensely as the US. Many human rights experts believe that Supermax prisons violate Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the equivalent Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Continue reading “Solitary Confinement, War Crimes and US Exceptionalism: Yunus Rahmatullah’s story” »

Protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice

Photo copyright © Aisha Maniar

“Weak but clever judges can be intellectually dishonest, making decisions which will please the powers that be and rock no boats”

– Helena Kennedy, Just Law, 2004

Most people in Britain haven’t yet woken up to the bleak awfulness of the extradition of Babar Ahmad, Talha Ahsan, Abu Hamza, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz to solitary confinement in the US on “terrorism” charges.

The men were put on planes that left the UK in the first minutes of Saturday 6th October, just after midnight. Two High Court judges in London had given the go-ahead for the extradition less than 10 hours earlier.
Continue reading “Extradition – a sea of injustice” »

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled on 10 April 2012 that Babar Ahmad and four other men can be extradited from Britain to the US to face terrorism charges. It rejected arguments that their rights would be violated as a result of the rigorous jail conditions they would be subjected to if convicted.

The ruling is a grave setback for efforts to end supermax-style isolation in the US and may be interpreted by some as a green light for the spread of supermax prisons to other jurisdictions.

Just as importantly, the ruling represents a missed opportunity to build case law from the growing international recognition that long-term solitary confinement is cruel and inhuman.

Continue reading “Ahmad v UK – a Green Light for solitary confinement?” »