Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office Bärbel Kofler and French Ambassador for Human Rights François Croquette issued the following joint statement on the trial, which started today (24 June), against the renowned Turkish businessman and foundation founder Osman Kavala:
The start of the trial against Osman Kavala and 15 other defendants is a dark day for Turkish civil society. We value Osman Kavala as an outstanding example of cultural and civic engagement who works to foster understanding in society.
A strong Turkey needs more, and not less, voices of his calibre. It does not need the intimidation and criminalisation of critical thinkers, but rather the courage to engage in social dialogue.
We hope that Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu will be released from pre-trial detention.
Osman Kavala, Director of the Turkish cultural foundation, Anadolu Kültür, has been in prison since 18 October 2018. After almost 500 days without being indicted, he and 15 other members of Turkish civil society were charged with, among other things, “attempting to overthrow the government”. The public prosecution office is calling for life imprisonment without parole. The main charges concern the demonstrations in 2013 known as the Gezi Park protests, which the defendants are accused of planning and organising. As well as the charge of attempting to overthrow the Government, the indictment includes the unauthorised carrying of dangerous substances, the causing of damage to places of worship and cemeteries, serious plundering, grievous bodily harm and damage to property.
Osman Kavala’s co-defendants are Yiğit Aksakoğlu, Ali Hakan Altınay, Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, Ayşe Pınar Alabora, Can Dündar, Çiğdem Mater Utku, Gökçe Yılmaz, Handan Meltem Arıkan, Hanzade Hikmet Germiyanoğlu, İnanç Ekmekçi, Memet Ali Alabora, Mine Özerden, Şerafettin Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi.