08/09/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkey’s long-running Gezi Park protest trials, including the detainment of Osman Kavala, have been merged with another trial of the Çarşı group. The Çarşı group was at the forefront of Gezi and are left-leaning supporters of the Istanbul soccer team Beşiktaş. As part of the trial merge, Kavala was ordered to remain in jail. The now joint Çarşı-Gezi case will have the next hearing on October 8.
Osman Kavala, a Turkish businessman and human rights activist was arrested in October 2017 on anti-government charges, including his involvement in the 2013 Gezi Park protests as well as the 2016 attempted coup. He was originally acquitted in February 2020 but the case was overturned and his case began again in May 2021. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled for his release and said, “the measures taken against him pursued an ulterior purpose, namely to reduce him to silence as an NGO activist and human-rights defender, to dissuade other persons from engaging in such activities and to paralyze civil society in the country.” His promotion of dialogue surrounding the genocide of Armenian Christians brought harsh attention to his human rights efforts, according to ICC’s joint report, Turkey: Challenges Facing Christians.
There are 15 other defendants included in the Gezi Park protest case along with Kavala, none of whom are subject to the same pre-trial detention.
In the Çarşı case, a group of 35 people was charged with attempting to overthrow the government, including “establishing and managing criminal and terrorist organizations”. All 35 defendants were acquitted until April 2021 when a Turkish court overturned the verdict for each group member.
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