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Turki himself opposes Kavala being awarded the “Vaclav Havel Prize”.

Turkey has objected to awarding the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize for 2023, awarded by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, to Osman Kavala, a Turkish businessman sentenced to life in prison.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement (Tuesday): “It is unacceptable that the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize be awarded to someone who has been finally convicted by the judiciary in Turkey.”

Life sentence

Last month, a court of cassation in Turkey upheld a life sentence for Kavala (age 66) and 18 years in prison against four others, including Labor MP Kane Attale. Party in May. Last, during the May 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, in the context of aiding an attempt to overthrow the government.

Imprisoned Turkish civil activist Osman Kavala (Archives – AFP)

The court dropped charges against three other defendants, including two who are already in jail.

The Kavala case has sparked sharp disagreements between Turkey, the United States and the European Union, with the West viewing it as “politicized.”

The leader of the Republican People’s Party, the largest opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, described the verdict as a “huge shame”, criticizing the judiciary for participating in “criminalizing” Gezi’s “struggle” for democracy through its rulings. “According to instructions.” given to him.

Human Rights Award

Denny Cox, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which presents the prize, announced his award to Kavala: “Today, more than ever, it is important to celebrate women and men of courage and determination. And strength, show us the path to freedom. “Their battle is an example to us all.”

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Turkish academic Ayesha Kavala received the award worth 60,000 euros on her husband’s behalf (Monday). On his behalf he read a statement in which Kavala dedicated the award to “his comrades who are illegally detained in Turkish prisons”.

Opponents of Gavala’s verdict demonstrate in Istanbul in April 2022 (Reuters)

Named after Vaclav Havel, a former Czech dissident and later President of the Czech Republic, the award has been presented by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe since 2013.

Turkish Refusal

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said: “It is unacceptable that the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize for 2023 be awarded to someone who has been irrevocably convicted by the judiciary in Turkey. Council of Europe), which should act under the guidance of democratic principles.” Human rights and the rule of law is to ignore the gains of the Council of Europe about the ideal of human rights and the collective efforts made over the years. This ideal.”

“Awarding a final judgment against someone is an extension of attempts to politicize the law,” the statement asserted. He said: “International organizations that are expected to serve to protect common values ​​should not be used as a tool for such attempts to set political agendas. By this action, disrespecting the judicial decision, the reputation and credibility of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has been seriously damaged.

Last Friday, opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu visited Kavala in Marmara prison on the outskirts of Istanbul and 4 people convicted in the “Kezi” case. He described their detention as “illegal”.

Kilicdaroglu said: “It is my duty to further clarify this injustice.” We must stand with the victims of this injustice and those wrongfully and illegally imprisoned.

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Support and charges

Kavala, a French citizen, was born in Paris in 1957. He began his studies at a Turkish school in Istanbul before moving to Britain to complete his university education at the University of Manchester. In 1982, he returned to Istanbul to run the family business after his father’s death. He was active in the preservation of Turkish heritage and its cultural diversity through the government-closed “Anatolia Cultural Center”, he founded the “Elichim” publishing house, and was a supporter of the rebuilding of historical monuments, including Armenian churches.

Demonstrators wave banners and chant slogans in support of Turkish activist Osman Gavala in Istanbul in April 2022 (AFP)

Kavala’s name emerged in 2013 as one of the main activists of the protest movement against the government’s cutting of part of Gezi Park to support the development of Taksim Square in Istanbul, which soon turned into widespread protests against Erdogan, who headed the government. became the President of the attempt to overthrow him.

Kavala is known for defending Kurdish and Armenian issues, and in 2015 he participated in the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Istanbul, noting that Turkish authorities still refuse to recognize the massacres of Armenians during World War II. I called it “genocide”.

In 2017, Kavala called for a boycott of a referendum to amend the constitution, which aims to transition to a presidential system and strengthen President Erdogan’s powers. He was arrested on October 18 that year.

Kavala accused Erdogan of being the hand of Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros, calling him the “Red Soros of Turkey” and vowing that he would not be released from prison as long as he was in power in Turkey.

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The West views Kavala as a symbol of the sweeping campaign of repression launched by Erdogan after the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, which led to the arrest of hundreds of thousands of people and the closure of media outlets, schools and universities. It was considered a campaign to suppress any voice of dissent.

The European Court of Human Rights issued more than one decision calling for the immediate release of Kavala, but Erdogan rejected it.

Rolf Colon
Rolf Colon
"Creator. Award-winning problem solver. Music evangelist. Incurable introvert."

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