Kavala: the most FAQ about Turkey nowadays

Turkish social activist businessman Osman Kavala is in jail, indicted to overthrow the Erdoğan government due to links with the Gezi wave of protests in 2013.

In international events that I participated in recently; I’m asked three types of questions about Turkey.
The first group of questions was about what is happening in Syria, in Libya, what Turkey’s moves meant and Turkish pendulum policy between the U.S. and Russia. This is quite natural because these issues are also on the world agenda; Syria, after all, is defined by the UN as perhaps the most serious crisis since the Second World War.
The second group of questions usually begins with the case of Osman Kavala; the social activist businessman who is in jail and indicted to organize the 2013 Gezi protests to overthrow the (now President) Tayyip Erdoğan’s government. An Istanbul prosecutor has asked for life sentence against him and two more social activists, Mücella Yapıcı and Yiğit Akasakoğlu. There are also questions about other civil society activists, journalists, writers, politicians in jail, but Kavala is the most Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) about Turkey nowadays. The fact that some of those who asked questions about Kavala, including diplomats and investors, knew that he would appear before a judge on Feb. 18 once again, an indicator of their close interest to the case.
Kavala is held in prison since October 2017 despite the fact that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), whose rulings are recognized by Turkish law -on paper- has called for his release. He and his friends are renowned civil society figures. But now they are on trial for plotting to overthrow the government through an armed up-rise, because of joining the Gezi wave of protests which begun to oppose the construction of a shopping mall in the place of the Gezi Park at the histori Taksim Square in Istanbul, in late May 2013.
The third group of questions was about Ali Babacan, Erdoğan’s former economy captain. When will he establish his own party? His chances against Erdoğan and the domestic policy problem in this regard. But that is the subject of another story; now Kavala case and similar ones.

Kavala, Demirtaş, Gezi Park

Osman Kavala’s case seems to have become the symbolic case regarding the judiciary practices in Turkey in the eyes of the Western world. Though the Western world has started to question how much “Western” it is now, this questioning is not in the form of “Human rights and pluralist democracy no longer matter, let’s take care of our business”; especially in Western Europe.
Among practices monitored by civil society and diplomacy circles abroad are the registration of the police officer Mevlüt Saldoğan as a victim-witness in the latest hearing of the Istanbul Court because his foot was hurt while kicking -alongside a number of other perpetrators- the protester Ali İsmail Korkmaz, who later died due to the injuries he got during that beating-up.
In another case, Selahattin Demirtaş, former co-chair of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), is also being kept in prison despite ECHR and Turkish Constitutional court rulings. Demirtaş is a politician who had run as a rival for the presidency against Erdoğan in 2014; it seems some people are happy to see him in jail and away from active politics.

And there is the Amnesty-Büyükada case

There is also the Büyükada case, which was given a court hearing date for Feb. 19. The case was opened after 11 Turkish and non-Turkish members of the Amnesty International were arrested on July 5, 2017 while having a training program in Büyükada (Princes’) island near Istanbul. The investigation, which first started as the officiousness of a police informant, went out of proportion when it was exaggerated by the pro-government media as “the external links of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization”. The police investigation reports proving that there was no By-lock application (used by Gülenists for their covert communications) down-loaded to the phones of AI people, particularly Amnesty’s -then- Turkey director Taner Kılıç did not matter much for the court so far. Also, despite the reports showing that there were no communications about overthrowing the Erdoğan government in their confiscated computers; only some documents about some human rights campaigns. Nevertheless, Kılıç and colleagues -some of them released before- have been asked by the prosecutor prison sentences up to 15 years.
The rule of law is a form of state that is one step ahead of the state of law, where the courts distribute justice and no one is exempt from practices. Although it is written in the Turkish constitution, as a journalist for more than 35 years now, I’ve seen thousands of examples; I reported many of them, wrote commentaries on them, that must have no place in a real rule of law.
But I also saw that this is not just about courts.
I wish that Kavala, Yapıcı, Aksakoğlu and friends on Feb. 18 and Taner Kılıç and his friends on Feb. 19 will be fairly tried and get free.
That I believe are what will strengthen Turkey democratically and economically as well.


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