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12/10/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – The European Court of Human Rights has issued a judgement against Turkey regarding the case of imprisoned philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was arrested in October 2017. The court has concluded that his arrest is a rights violation and is politically motivated; the court intends to request that Turkey release Kavala as soon as possible.

As a philanthropist, Kavala’s work encompasses many cultural and historical angles. A significant amount of his work involved the publication of numerous books on the Armenian Genocide, a topic which Turkey actively discourages conversation about. Kavala’s philanthropic work included attempts to build bridges of reconciliation between communities damaged by Turkey’s genocidal history—many of these victims were Christians. Even prior to his arrest, Kavala was under significant pressure from the authorities as attempts were made to prevent him from engaging in this kind of work.

The genocide of Christians in Turkey occurred as the Ottoman Empire was collapsing in the early 1900s. It effectively demolished Christianity throughout the country. Though modern-day Turkey is constitutionally secular, the constitution also protects Turkishness, a concept that implies that all Christians are foreign and all Turks are Muslim. Though some Christians survived the genocide, their children and grandchildren continue to suffer its consequences. Some Turks such as Kavala have made attempts at recognizing this history and its continued impact, but the government heavily harasses all efforts.

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