Civil society activist Osman Kavala’s letter from prison

Turkish civil-society activist and businessman Osman Kavala has written an open letter after spending nine months in Silivri prison, where he is detained pending trial.

“I was not anxious when I was detained, and I am still not. But it is a strange thing not to see the face of justice for nine whole months,” said Kavala in his letter.

Kavala, a prominent businessman in Turkey, had been involved in charitable projects aimed at easing historical issues between Turks and the country’s minorities.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly accused the businessman of conspiring to undermine his nation, calling him “Turkey’s Soros,” referring to the U.S.-Hungarian investor accused by conspiracy theorists of using non-governmental organisations to push his agenda.

“Until now all my requests to be released have been turned down on the basis of the investigation file and without a court hearing,” said Kavala.

“The court decisions have stated that the imputed offense – or the “charge thrown at me” in literally translated Turkish – necessitate my incarceration, and that the duration of detention is in proportion with the punishment for such a crime,” he added.

Kavala has been charged with “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order,” a common charge against opposition figures arrested in the aftermath of the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

Among other charges, the government has also linked Kavala to the Gülen religious movement, which it blames for orchestrating the coup attempt.

“The charges against Mr. Kavala are absurd,” wrote Turkish academic Dani Rodrik in a New York Times op-ed after Kavala's arrest.

“His sole crime consists of organizing cultural and civil society initiatives to mend historical fissures between ethnic Turks and their Kurdish and Armenian brethren, and to bring Turkey closer to its neighbors — Europe, Iran, Armenia,” said Rodrik, a schoolfriend of Kavala’s and ardent critic of the Gülen movement.
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