Turkish philanthropist and activist Osman Kavala has never been convicted of a crime – yet he has been in prison for almost four years in Turkey, despite a ruling by a leading European court.
On September 17, the Council of Europe issued Turkey its final warning to release the 64-year-old entrepreneur, warning that the infringement proceedings against Ankara would begin at the end of November if Kavala was not released by then .
But Turkey, so far, has refused to recognize the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on December 10, 2019, which declared that the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated. and therefore ordered the immediate release of Kavala.
The ECHR concluded that Kavala’s arrest was politically motivated, with no reasonable evidence to support the charges. However, Turkish officials did not implement the ruling and said the ECHR ruling was not final.
And now several countries are putting pressure on Turkey.
Declaration of the ambassadors
On Monday, the ambassadors of Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States called for a “just and swift” resolution the case of Kavala.
In a joint statement, the ambassadors of the 10 countries called on Turkey to follow the decisions of the Council of Europe, a human rights body to which it joined in 1950. “The persistent delays in her trial (.. .) cast a shadow over respect for democracy, the rule of law and the transparency of the Turkish judicial system, ”the statement said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the actions of the ambassadors, threatening to expel them from the country.
“I said to our Foreign Minister: we cannot afford the luxury of hosting this batch in our country. Is it up to you to teach Turkey such a lesson? Who do you think you are? ? “, he said Thursday. The ambassadors have been summoned. in the Foreign Ministry before Erdogan’s statement and were accused of “politicizing the Kavala affair”.
What is Kavala accused of?
Kavala is accused of funding nationwide protests in Gezi Park in 2013 and of participating in a coup attempt in 2016.
He was taken into custody on October 18, 2017, following a meeting with the German Goethe Institute regarding a joint project with Anadolu Kultur, a non-profit organization in Istanbul supporting cultural and social projects.
After two weeks in detention, Kavala was arrested on November 1, 2017, in connection with protests in Gezi Park on charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” and “attempting to overthrow the government”. He was then sent to Silivri high security prison outside Istanbul.
He was acquitted in February 2020, but a new arrest warrant was issued against him hours later, this time for a separate case accusing him of being involved in the attempted coup of June 15, 2016. .
Almost a month later, he was also cleared of this charge, but was kept in pre-trial detention for “political or military espionage”.
In May 2020, the European Court of Human Rights rejected Turkey’s request to refer the Chamber judgment in Osman Kavala’s application to the Grand Chamber, finalizing its December 2019 judgment.
Turkey has seen protests against Gezi trial: “Gezi cannot be tried”, the banner reads
Several merged trials
In September 2020, the Istanbul Attorney General’s Office prepared a new indictment, accusing Kavala of collaborating with Henri Barkey, a prominent Turkey scholar in the United States, and of “playing a role in the coup attempt “.
In January 2021, his acquittal in the Gezi Park trial was overturned. At the second hearing in Osman Kavala’s coup and espionage trial, held on February 5, 2021, the court decided to join this case to the Gezi Park trial and ordered Kavala’s continued detention.
On July 28, 2021, the Gezi trial was merged with the Carsi trial, in which 35 members of the Besiktas Carsi football fan group were retried for allegedly “organizing a conspiracy against the government during the Gezi Park protests”. The court has set November 26, 2021 as the date of the next hearing.
Kavala’s lawyers noted that the September 2020 indictment was purely fictional and not based on any concrete evidence. Human rights organizations around the world have strongly criticized Kavala’s arrest and said the charges are political.
Kavala has supported several causes of civil society
Who is Osman Kavala?
Kavala is one of the most prominent figures of civil society in Turkey. The businessman has helped found several publishing houses in Turkey since the early 1980s, before supporting numerous civil society organizations a decade later.
In 2002, he founded Anadolu Kultur. The objectives of the organization included enabling the production and promotion of arts and culture in Turkey, supporting local initiatives, emphasizing diversity and cultural rights and strengthening local and international collaborations. .
He was also a founding member of the Open Society Foundation of philanthropist George Soros in Turkey.