18 February 2020

Turkey acquits Gezi Park protestors, but re-arrests Osman Kavala immediately after his release

Turkish rights activist Osman Kavala was re-arrested on 18 February for his alleged role in the July 2016 failed military coup. The re-arrest occurred hours after him and other eight defendants were acquitted over alleged links with the Gezi park protests of 2013, as the judge resolved that there was “not enough concrete evidence” against them. The protests, which originally started in the summer of 2013 as demonstrations against the demolition of the Gezi Park, grew into a nationwide anti-government protest. The nine defendants, including Kavala, were accused of having prepared the protests with the goal of overthrowing the government. Kavala, who had been held in preventive detention and imprisoned for 28 months, was immediately arrested after his release from Silivri prison and is now in jail under a new detention order. The new warrant sparked an immediate criticism from human rights organisations and EU representatives. Amnesty’s Turkey campaigner Milena Buyum said that “this decision smacks of deliberate and calculated cruelty”, and called for Kaval’s immediate release. The EU also condemned the arrest in a statement released by the European External Action Service (EEAS), in which it notes that “the lack of credible grounds to re-arrest Osman Kavala and to continue his detention pending different charges, further damages the credibility of Turkey’s judiciary”. It added that “judicial proceedings cannot be used as a means of silencing critical voices”. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Djuna Mijatović also criticised the new detention order, and declared that “these allegedly new charges brought against Osman Kavala have no credibility and for me, this arrest amounts to ill-treatment”.

circle graphic