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 hearings that are scheduled to take place tomorrow (24 December 2019) in the criminal case against the renowned Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala:
During tomorrow’s hearings, our thoughts will again be with Osman Kavala, his 15 co-defendants, and all those engaged in civil society in Turkey. Turkey has committed itself to complying with rule-of-law standards. This includes the immediate release of Osman Kavala from pre-trial detention, in accordance with the decision of 10 December by the European Court of Human Rights, in which it declared the detention to be unlawful.
We are paying equally close attention to the proceedings against the deposed mayor of Diyarbakır, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, for whom a trial date of 25 December 2019 has been set. In this case, as well, the Turkish Government is responsible for ensuring compliance with rule-of-law and human rights standards.
Osman Kavala, director of the Turkish cultural foundation Anadolu Kültür has been in prison since 18 October 2017. After almost 500 days without being indicted, he and 15 others were charged with, among other things, “attempting to overthrow the Government”. The Public Prosecutor’s 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. Alongside Osman Kavala, his co-defendant Yiğit Aksakoğlu was also held in detention. On the first day of the trial (25 June 2019), the court ordered that Yiğit Aksakoğlu be released. On 10 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) determined that the prolonged pre-trial detention of Osman Kavala is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights and called for his immediate release.
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.
Since August 2019, more than 20 mayors who were democratically elected in the Turkish municipal elections on 31 March 2019 have been removed from office. The accusation of support for terrorist organisations is being used to justify their removal. Furthermore, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, the co-mayor of Diyarbakır, has been in detention since 22 October 2019.