On 20 March 2019, Germany and France held consultations on the situation in Turkey, including on the recent indictment of renowned businessman Osman Kavala and 15 co‑defendants. In a joint statement, François Croquette, Ambassador for Human Rights at the French Foreign Ministry, and Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, declared:
Osman Kavala is a prominent representative of Turkey’s strong and vibrant civil society. To see him and his colleagues indicted on the basis of very weak evidence, not to say conspiracy theories, is a source of great concern to us. We are deeply worried about the signal this sends to Turkish NGOs that express criticism of the government. We are appalled by this obvious attempt to discredit the Gezi protests of 2013. If mere contact to and exchange with foreign partners can be denounced as a “plotting against the government”, this may damage democracy itself.
France and Germany will closely follow the trial against Osman and his co‑defendants during the months to come. The Turkish authorities need to ensure that all of the accused are given a fair trial, with the rights they are entitled to under the European Convention on Human Rights, and Turkey must adhere to its international obligations.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has requested aggravated life sentences for Osman Kavala and his co‑defendants. According to press reports, the charges concern the demonstrations in 2013 that became known as the Gezi Park protests, which the defendants are accused of planning and preparing. In addition to the supposed attempt to topple the government, the charges include unauthorised carrying of dangerous substances, damaging 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.