Kavala hits out at Turkey’s foreign minister over jailing

Jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala hit out at Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu for accusing Germany of providing him with funding during the Gezi Park protests of 2013.

“Trying to justify the grave human rights violations by repeating unfounded allegations about the Gezi events is not acceptable,” Kavala said in a letter from prison in response to remarks made by Çavuşoğlu at a joint press briefing with German counterpart Annelena Baerbock last week, the Diken news website reported on Tuesday.

Çavuşoğlu and Baerbock traded barbs over a string of issues during the briefing in Istanbul on Friday, including the Kavala case. Baerbock called on Turkey to implement the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) decisions on the case, urging the Turkish authorities to release him, according to Reuters. Çavuşoğlu responded by saying: "Why do you constantly bring up Osman Kavala? Because you are using Osman Kavala against Turkey.”

“The allegations that the foreign sources funded the Gezi protests through me are fabricated claims for discrediting the events and keeping me in jail,” Kavala said in the letter released via his lawyer, Diken said.

Despite years of struggle, no one could present a scrap of evidence or information to prove such allegations, he said.

An Istanbul court convicted Kavala to life in prison without parole in late April for seeking to overthrow the Turkish government by financing the Gezi Park protests. Kavala had spent four and a half years behind bars without a conviction ahead of April’s hearing. In 2019, the ECHR ordered his release citing lack of evidence and a breach to his rights to freedom.

“The trial which kept me in prison for almost five years, was carried out on the basis of intense unlawfulness,” Kavala said.  

The protests, the largest against Erdoğan’s rule since he came to power in 2003, began as a small sit-in at Gezi Park in central Istanbul against the proposed destruction of the park, one of the city’s last green spaces, to make way for a shopping centre. Within weeks, millions were demonstrating across the country.Eleven people were killed and more than 8,000 injured in the ensuing violence.


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