Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office Bärbel Kofler issued the following statement today (18 July) on the trial against Osman Kavala, renowned Turkish businessman and founder of Anadolu Kültür:
Once again today, Turkey’s critical civil society is on trial along with Osman Kavala and 15 other defendants. Once again, an attempt is being made to recast civic engagement as a foreign plot.
I welcome the court’s decision of 25 June to release Yiğit Aksakoğlu from custody. It is high time that Osman Kavala was finally also released from pre-trial detention. Germany stands shoulder to shoulder with Turkey’s civil society.
Osman Kavala, the founder and chairman of Anadolu Kültür, a cultural institution, has been in detention 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 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. 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.
Osman Kavala has been a reliable partner for Germany for many years. Thanks to his support, a number of cultural projects have been realised in Turkey. 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.