On 20 February 2019, the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that it was pressing charges against the famous philanthropist and entrepreneur Osman Kavala and 15 other persons for attempting to overthrow the Government and other crimes in connection with the so-called Gezi Park protests. Against this backdrop, Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (22 February):
The charges levelled against Osman Kavala and a number of Turkish intellectuals, journalists, activists and artists constitute a new attempt to silence the voice of independent civil society in Turkey.
When civil protests are interpreted as a plot and absurd accusations are used to criminalise critical minds, Turkey is depriving itself of its most precious capital.
I appeal to the Turkish courts to resist this blatant silencing attempt.
The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has called for aggravated life imprisonment for Osman Kavala and his co-defendants. According to press reports, the charges concern the demonstrations in 2013 known as the Gezi Park protests, the planning and preparation of which the defendants are accused of. As well as the attempt to topple the Government, the charges include 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 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.