Osman Kavala and 15 other Turkish civil society leaders are facing life in prison, charged with purportedly trying to overthrow the government during the 2013 Gezi Park protests. The Gezi protests, which were violently suppressed by the Turkish government, started out as an environmentally-focused protest movement but eventually came to encompass a whole range of grievances, including greater rights for ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities.
Kavala, who was one of the most well-respected civil society leaders in Turkey, has already spent more than a year in prison.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations reacted to the indictment by calling for all charges to be dropped against Kavala and his 15 colleagues.
These outlandish allegations are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence some of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures who now face the prospect of being tried by Turkey’s deeply flawed justice system…
The Gezi protests were overwhelmingly peaceful with people simply exercising their rights. They were met by arbitrary and abusive force by police. It should be the authorities’ denial of these rights and the police violence against peaceful protestors that should be examined by the courts, not these 16 civil society figures who have not committed any crime.
A spokesperson for the EU said that the indictments “raise questions as to the adherence of the Turkish judiciary to international and European standards.” The foreign affairs committee of the EU Parliament recommended that the EU freeze its accession talks with Turkey because of its poor human rights record.
Kati Piri, the parliament’s rapporteur on Turkey, tweeted:
The EP represents EU voters – we take positions on important topics, such as Turkey’s accession process. My expectation is that in two weeks a large majority of the EP will vote for the suspension of accession talks w/ Turkey, as EP Foreign Affairs cttee did today. #EPTurkey https://t.co/3bwhlH1TNu
— Kati Piri (@KatiPiri) February 20, 2019