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Turkey: PEN Centres worldwide call for the acquittal of all defendants in the Gezi hearing, and for the immediate release of Osman Kavala

Thursday 20 May 2021 - 10:14am

Osman Kavala

20 May 2021 – We, the undersigned PEN Centres, condemn the continued judicial harassment of all defendants in the Gezi trial, the new hearing of which takes place tomorrow. We further call for all charges against the defendants in this case to be dropped and for the publisher, civil society actor and human rights defender Osman Kavala’s immediate and unconditional release from prison.

Osman Kavala has spent over three-and-a-half years behind bars. First detained in October 2017, he was officially charged 16 months after his arrest – accused of being responsible for crimes allegedly committed by protestors across Turkey during the 2013 Gezi Park protests. Kavala faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole, with an additional 20-year sentence for ‘espionage’. He remains in pre-trial detention in Silivri Prison, outside Istanbul.

In December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled for Osman Kavala’s immediate release, as it found his detention ‘pursued an ulterior purpose…namely that of reducing [him] to silence’. Yet the Turkish authorities continue to ignore the binding judgement of the Court and decisions from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

The majority of defendants in this case were acquitted in February 2020. The prosecutor’s appeal against their acquittals was upheld in November 2020 and a retrial was ordered. We call for this prolonged, judicial harassment to end.

Representatives of PEN Centres have been present at every one of the hearings in the Gezi case and observed the judicial theatre that took place, and which has no basis in law. We support the defendants in this case for exercising their constitutional rights to assembly and demonstration.

We urgently call for Osman Kavala’s immediate and unconditional release from prison, and for all charges to be dropped against the defendants in this case.

SIGNATORIES

  1. PEN International
  2. PEN Afrikaans
  3. PEN America
  4. PEN Bangladesh
  5. PEN Belarus
  6. PEN Bosnia-Herzegovina
  7. PEN Brazil
  8. PEN Canada
  9. PEN Català
  10. Croatian PEN
  11. PEN Club of Cuban Writers in Exile
  12. Danish PEN
  13. English PEN
  14. PEN Eritrea in Exile
  15. PEN Esperanto
  16. French PEN
  17. PEN Gambia
  18. German PEN
  19. PEN Guinea-Bissau
  20. PEN Iraq
  21. Iranian PEN in Exile
  22. Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann
  23. PEN Japan
  24. Kurdish PEN
  25. PEN Liechtenstein
  26. PEN Malawi
  27. PEN Melbourne
  28. PEN Moscow
  29. PEN Myanmar
  30. PEN Netherlands
  31. PEN Nigeria
  32. PEN Norway
  33. PEN Perth
  34. PEN Philippines
  35. PEN Portugal
  36. PEN Québec
  37. PEN Romania
  38. San Miguel de Allende PEN
  39. Scottish PEN
  40. PEN Sierra Leone
  41. Slovene PEN
  42. PEN South India Centre
  43. Swedish PEN
  44. Swiss Italian and Reto-Romanch speaking PEN
  45. PEN Trieste
  46. PEN Turkey
  47. PEN Uganda
  48. Vietnamese Abroad PEN Centre
  49. Wales PEN Cymru