European Union slams Turkish gov’t over arrest of peace activist Osman Kavala

Osman Kavala

The European Union has criticized the arrest of Osman Kavala, a prominent businessman and activist, on terror charges, reiterating its call on the Turkish government to “respect democratic norms” and the independence of the judiciary, according to a report by Hurriyet daily news on Friday.

Maja Kocijančič

“Osman Kavala, Chairman of Anadolu Kültür, has been arrested and charged with seeking to change the constitutional order of Turkey. The public rhetoric and accusations used against Mr. Kavala after his detention and prior to his arrest cast serious doubt on the respect for due process and the presumption of innocence,” EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said in a written statement on Friday.

Kavala’s case adds to the long list of detentions and arrests of civil society representatives, journalists, academics and others over the past weeks and months, further eroding fundamental rights and freedoms and leading to a shrinking space for civil society, Kocijancic stress.

“Long detention and pre-trial periods have become the norm rather than the exception,” she added.

“The EU expects the Turkish authorities to respect the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, including the independence of the judiciary, pre-trial detention as well as the principle of presumption of innocence,” the spokesperson stated.

Kavala was arrested over alleged links to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt and the December 2013 corruption probes targeting senior government figures. The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office accused Kavala of being among the “managers and organizers” of the 2013 anti-government Gezi Park protests.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, Kavala was arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic. The ruling came days after Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Kavala a criminal and the “Turkish Soros.”

Erdoğan had said Kavala was behind the Gezi protests of 2013, calling him Turkey’s George Soros. “Some try to deflect the truth by means of praises attributed to him such as ‘He was a good citizen, a media member, an NGO representative. Identity of this figure called ‘Soros of Turkey’ has been uncovered. That was his name that came up in Consulate General [investigation]. All connections have surfaced. And there is the same person behind the incidents in Taksim. You see those people again behind funds transfer to certain places. Who are you trying to fool?” said Erdoğan.

Kavala was born in 1957 in Paris and studied economics at the University of Manchester. Upon his father’s passing in 1982, he took over the management of the Kavala Companies. He was active in the establishment of a number of business organizations in Turkey, including Turkish-Polish and Turkish-Greek business councils and the Association of Tourism Investors.

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