On Friday, 13 members of Turkey’s already embattled civil society were detained. The 13, who range from film producers to academics, were apparently targeted as part of the ongoing investigation against Osman Kavala, one of the most prominent civil society figures in Turkey who has been detained for over a year without charges. Amnesty has demanded the release of Kavala in the face of his prolonged detention and the fact that no evidence has presented linking him to the failed coup attempt.
Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner observed that
This latest wave of detentions of academics and activists, on the basis of absurd allegations, shows that the authorities are intent on continuing their brutal crackdown of independent civil society, and shatters any illusion that Turkey is normalizing following the lifting of the state of emergency.
In fact, Turkey seems to be widening its crackdown. According to Amnesty, the 13 detained on Friday are accused of
organizing meetings to “deepen and spread” the Gezi Park protests, inviting trainers and moderators on the subjects of “civil disobedience and non-violent activism,” carrying out media activities to continue the “Gezi Park process” and activities to stop the export of tear gas to Turkey.
Amnesty goes on to note that “even if true, all these are legitimate activities protected under the rights to freedom of expression, association and the right to peaceful assembly.” Cracking down on those who participated in the Gezi protests would potentially ensnare millions of Turks. According to the Turkish government’s own estimates, around 3.5 million people participated in the protests, which swept from Istanbul and engulfed the entire country in the summer of 2013.
Several of those detained on Friday have been released, but the majority remain in custody.