Turkish human rights activist and philanthropist Osman Kavala underlined in a letter sent from prison that he has spent 15 months in pretrial detention and still has not been indicted.
Kavala said in the letter that appeared in Turkish media outlets on Friday that the fact that he has not once been questioned by a prosecutor and his requests for release have been denied for 19 times indicates a belief among authorities that his pre-trial detention is reasonable.
A wave of demonstrations and civil unrest took place across Turkey in the summer of 2013, initially to contest an urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. The demonstrations were sparked by outrage at the violent eviction on June 15, 2013 of a sit-in at the park protesting the plan. Demonstrations and strikes in support took place across Turkey, voicing a wide range of concerns, at the core of which were issues of freedom of the press, of expression and of assembly, and the government’s encroachment on Turkey’s secularism. Eight civilians and two police officers died during the protests. The police were criticized for the use of disproportionate force, which had been ordered by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Despite the lack of any indictment, Kavala is accused in the pro-government media of organizing and financing the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013.
President Erdoğan refers to the protests as an attempt to topple his government and publicly accuses Kavala of being among the financiers of the Gezi protests.
Last month, Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović submitted an opinion in a case brought by Kavala against the government of Turkey at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
She described the incarceration of Kavala as part of increasing pressure in Turkey on the legitimate activities of human rights activists and civil society organizations.
Kavala was detained in October 2017 and subsequently jailed pending trial, accused of seeking to overthrow the government as part of an investigation into the Gülen network, which Ankara accuses of carrying out a 2016 failed coup. (SCF, turkishminute.com)