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The trial against 16 people who are charged with “attempted overthrow” for “organizing and financing” the 2013 Gezi Park protests will begin on June 24.
Ahead of the first hearing, the Human Rights Watch has released a statement and a video, demanding the release of the defendants Osman Kavala and Yiğit Aksakoğlu who have been in pre-trial detention for months.
“The main defendant in the Gezi Park case is Osman Kavala, a leading figure in civil society who runs a civic organization promoting human rights through the arts. He has spent the past 19 months in pretrial detention in Silivri Prison near Istanbul. A second defendant, Yiğit Aksakoğlu, who works for an early childhood education foundation, has been detained for the past seven months in the same prison.”
“In the tension around the Istanbul election, people should not lose sight of the fact that 16 individuals engaged in peaceful civic activism, education, and the arts are about to stand trial for crimes for which the possible sentence is life in prison without parole,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW.
“The Gezi trial exemplifies Turkey’s appalling record of bogus prosecutions and detention of people the government sees as its critics and enemies.”
“An examination of the indictment shows that the actual purpose of the Gezi prosecution is to silence and punish the defendants for their legitimate and entirely peaceful civic activities and work,” Williamson said. “The prosecutor should drop the charges, and Kavala and Aksakoğlu should be freed immediately.” (HA/VK)