Kavala case: It is time for the EU to take concrete action against the Turkish regime

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Turkey TurkeyKavala case: It is time for the Nothing has changed in Turkey. The pressure of the European Union for the sultan to respect human rights and the international treaties to which he has adhered do not stop the arbitrary arrests of journalists and opponents of the regime. Practices that, according to human rights defenders, amount to crimes against humanity.

An Istanbul court decided Friday to extend the detention of Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was jailed for four years without being tried. The EU’s threats to punish Ankara for this case were of no avail. According to an AFP reporter, judges in Erdogan’s pay felt there was a lack of “new elements” to justify his release.

A leading figure in Turkish civil society and opposition, Kavala has been accused since 2013 by the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of wanting to destabilize the country. Specifically, he is accused of having promoted the wave of protests against Erdogan that year, nicknamed the Taksim Gezi park movement. They also accused him of wanting to overthrow the government with the failed 2016 coup. Kavala, however, has consistently denied all these accusations. In vain. The accused will have to remain in his cell and be called to appear again in court on November 26.

Amnesty International described Friday’s decision as “cruel punishment, torture for him and his family” and considered it “a day for shame” in Turkey. Despite being acquitted in February 2020, Kavala was arrested the next day again, accused of “supporting” the 2016 coup. “. As with thousands of other cases, keeping Kavala behind bars is a strategy.

In a courtroom packed with numerous American and European diplomats, Kavala spoke at Friday’s hearing by videoconference from Silivri prison, west of Istanbul, where he has been held since October 2017. His wife, Professor of Political Economy Ayse Bugra of the Bogazici University of Istanbul, also attended the audience. “I don’t feel like I’m coming out of a trial,” Bugra told reporters after the hearing ended. The decision to keep Osman Kavala behind bars isn’t based on any legal basis.

“The most surprising thing is not that the allegations are not based on any evidence, but that they are implausible, based on conspiracy theories,” Kavala criticized in a statement transmitted by his lawyers during the hearing. “Extending my detention on such a fragile basis is an out-of-court decision,” she added. In December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights had asked for his immediate release, although the Turkish authorities had always ignored him. It is time for the Council of Europe, of which Turkey is a part, which had threatened Ankara to sanction it in this case, to pass from words to deeds. Its credibility is worth it. Erdogan’s Turkey is not and will never be a European country. The European Union must respect the treaties and promises made to its citizens, including kicking Erdogan if necessary. And there are many reasons – from support for terrorism to non-respect for human rights – there are many.

If the Turkish justice does not release the entrepreneur first, the EU must adopt these sanctions at the next Council meeting between November 30 and December 2. There is no choice. Pretending not to see these crimes against humanity not to irritate the mad sultan means being accomplices of a sick man, comparable to Adolf Hitler. Europe and the United States can no longer be wrong. Or they will have to deal with waves of anger that will overwhelm the member countries, who will be forced to leave this organization without any political weight.

Turkey would be only the second country to be subject to “infringement procedures.” So far, the only government suspended through this procedure has been Russia, between 2017 and 2019, for much more trivial crimes. The November 26 hearing, if it allows for Kavala’s release, should not reconsider these sanctions until all the hundreds of people, journalists, human rights defenders, and political prisoners are released against the Turkish regime

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