Imprisoned Turkish activists complain about ‘grand injustice’

Imprisoned Turkish activists complain about ‘grand injustice’

Imprisoned Turkish activists complain about ‘grand injustice’

Osman Kavala, an imprisoned Turkish businessman and civil society activist, says he is facing a “grand injustice,” according to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers who visited him in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison.

“I am faced with a great injustice. My imprisonment is a part of the political authority’s attack against dissidents,” Kavala said, the CHP MPs reported on Nov. 6. 

CHP Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba and CHP Ankara deputy Şenal Sarıhan visited Silivri Prison and spoke to 10 names including Kavala, daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief Murat Sabuncu, Cumhuriyet reporter Ahmet Şık, Cumhuriyet CEO Akın Atalay, Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel, and writers Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan. 

Kavala was arrested on Nov. 1 on terror charges and is the chairman of the NGO Anadolu Kültür (Anatolian Culture), which focuses on cultural collaboration with Europe. He is also the co-founder of the İletişim Publishing House. 

“It is beyond the limits of rationality to relate me or my wife Ayşe Buğra with [the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization] FETÖ. Back in the 1990s, when just a few people were aware of the FETÖ threat, we were aware of it and fighting against it,” he reportedly to the CHP deputies. 

He also mentioned President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s comments on Oct. 24 in which he had referred to Kavala indirectly as

Turkey’s Soros,” in reference to prominent Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros. 

“I was arrested after Erdoğan’s comments, just like the human rights activists in [the Istanbul island of] Büyükada who were targeted by the president,” Kavala said, referring to 10 human rights activists who were detained by police during a meeting in July. 

Kavala is charged with “attempting to abolish the constitutional order” and “attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic” through alleged links to July 15, 2016 coup attempt and the December 2013 corruption probes targeting senior government figures. He is also accused of being one of the “managers and organizers” of the 2013 anti-government Gezi Park protests. 

Journalist Ahmet Altan, who is facing a life sentence on charges of “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and “committing a crime on behalf of an armed terrorist group without being a member of it,” also told the visiting CHP deputies that his imprisonment was “unlawful.” 

“There is no answer to how these crimes [that we are accused of] can be committed by journalistic activities,” he said. 

Altan stated that their imprisonment “aimed to create an environment of fear,” but added that international media coverage of the cases “has actually made the political power fear for itself.”  

For his part Sabuncu, who is in prison along with five other Cumhuriyet journalists and officials in a case in which 20 defendants are on trial for allegedly “supporting terrorist organizations,” reportedly said the case puts journalism itself on trial. 

“The only thing there in the prosecutor’s indictment is journalism itself,” he said. 

“Why have I and my friends been in prison for 13 months? What evidence are they are looking for that could not yet be found?” Sabuncu added. 

Atalay, meanwhile, said “even the court head recognizes the abnormality of our case, as can be seen by all people who defend freedom.”