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01/20/2022 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkish courts ignored the calls of the international community, ECHR rulings, and rights activists, extending the detention of Osman Kavala until February 13 and scheduling his next hearing for February 21. The Council of Europe offered the courts one last chance to release Kavala before February 2, at which point the infringement proceedings would begin.

In 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled for Kavala’s release. Turkish courts have thus far ignored the demands to comply with the binding verdict. Authorities first detained the Turkish philanthropist on October 18, 2017, accusing him of involvement in the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Kavala was acquitted in 2020 of those charges, but the ruling was later overturned and combined with other charges in the 2016 coup attempt. Kavala remains imprisoned and on trial, along with 51 other defendants from three separate cases.

Turkish courts also have failed in the aftermath of the Hrant Dink assassination. His murder in 2007 remains unsolved, with various cases and lawsuits submitted to the courts, but little justice has been served for the family of the Turkish-Armenian Editor in Chief. The 15-year anniversary of his death on January 19 was observed by many in Turkey, recalling his life and efforts.

It is cases like Osman Kavala’s and Hrant Dink’s that led Human Rights Watch to release a report indicating that “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s centralized presidential government has set back Turkey’s human rights record by decades.” The report points out the silencing of critics and opponents and failures to uphold human rights commitments.

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