‘My case has turned into a theatre of injustice,’ says jailed philanthropist Kavala

Jailed Turkish businessman Osman Kavala has said the criminal proceedings against have been far from being a lawful process and continue in an unjust fashion, news website Bianet reported on Sunday.

“At this point, unfortunately (the case) has turned into a theatre - a theatre of injustice,” Kavala told main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Utku Çakırözer as the deputy visited the businessman in prison.

A court in Istanbul recently ruled to combine accusations against the Turkish philanthropist in one case, which Kavala said was aimed to void a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for his immediate release.

Kavala is facing charges of espionage and attempting to overthrow the government, for his alleged involvement with former U.S. State Department employee Henri Barkey and alleged funding of the massive anti-government protests of 2013, commonly known as the Gezi Park protests after the namesake park in central Istanbul, respectively.

The philanthropist was first arrested in November 2017 over the Gezi protests, to face trial alongside 15 other prominent civil society figures.

Kavala also spoke about the protests against an appointed rector in Istanbul’s prominent Boğaziçi University.

“Like my wife Ayşe Buğra, like the students of Boğaziçi University, I also feel sorrow for my country,” Kavala said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan targeted Ayşe Buğra, one of Turkey’s most renowned scholars and a professor of political economy at Boğaziçi, in a recent speech where he said Buğra and Kavala were among provocateurs looking to turn the Boğaziçi protests into “another Gezi”.

The Boğaziçi protests have continued since Jan. 4, and have escalated in February after government officials and Erdoğan himself repeatedly called the protesting students terrorists and deviants, the latter over supporting LGBT students among them.

Ayşe Buğra said calling the protests a “provocation” was disrespectful towards the students, who she said were protecting their beloved alma mater from corruption by outside influences.

While at the Silivri Prison, Çakırözer also visited Turkish novelist and journalist Ahmet Altan, who was arrested in 2016, released in late 2019, and arrested again upon his conviction to 10 years in prison for allegedly sending “subliminal messages” to the July 15 coup plotters in 2016.

“As long as Kavala, Ahmet Altan and other political prisoners are held in dungeons, one can’t speak of the rule of law in Turkey,” Çakırözer said after his visits. “Every day that Kavala, Ahmet Altan, Selahattin Demirtaş and other political prisoners are kept behind bars is a new violation of rights.”

“Ahmet Altan has been in prison for 4.5 years only over articles he wrote. His case has needlessly awaited review at the Court of Cassation for one year,” he continued. “What happened to the legal certainty, human dignity?”

The deputy said Kavala was also in prison for some four years, despite one acquittal (which was later overturned), two release orders, and one ruling by the European Court of Human Rights and another by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

“Kavala’s arrest is an indicator for the state of democracy in Turkey,” he said.